Wallpaper Wednesday: Briggs Hall in the fog
Here’s what EMU has to say about the building:
Everyone agreed that the old gymnasium was much too small and that the strong physical education program, which had been holding classes since 1903, needed new quarters. President Munson placed it on his list of buildings to be built. The nation still struggled in the depths of the Depression and funding from Lansing remained painfully tight. Munson turned to his personal friend and Ypsilanti native, Walter O. Briggs, Sr. for funding. Briggs was the perfect choice. As owner of the Detroit “Tigers”, he was deeply interested in physical education.
The new Field House faced the back of McKenny Union, placing it at the heart of the social center of campus. Inside, Briggs Field House contained lockers, showers, training rooms, and offices of officials. It also included a “large practice room with a dirt floor to be used for vaulting and other winter activities.”
From its location at the heart of campus, Briggs Field House acted as a gateway to Briggs Field beyond. Here builders constructed a football stand and a baseball stand with seating for 300 spectators. Today, Mark Jefferson Hall, Strong Hall, and the parking lot cover the athletic park.
As the physical education program continued to grow, and the school needing more space for other classroom buildings, the school created a new athletic complex beginning with Bowen Field House. Briggs Hall was redeveloped for classroom space for the Department of Mathematics. Further changes in 1989 updated the building for use by the Art Department. The improvements provided better space for 3-D art workshops for woodworking, metal, plastics, and jewelry.