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Wallpaper Wednesday: Briggs Hall in the fog

March 21, 2012

Today’s Wallpaper Wednesday features a foggy photo of Briggs Hall by Ken Bailey.

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.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. mikoyan29 permalink
    March 21, 2012 1:18 pm

    My only experience with Briggs Hall was when I was a Freshman and I had to sign up for my second semester classes. We had to grab the punch cards for the classes we wanted. Since prioritization was based on class, I found that a couple of the classes I needed were full so I had to make alternative selections which meant going back through the line. It was because of this that I signed up for the Honors Program because that bumped me up the list. Shortly after that, they moved to a phone in registration which was alot more pleasant.

    And on one more note…taking pictures of Briggs Hall is a pain. The stand of trees between iit and McKenny makes it difficult to get a straight on shot of the entrance which I think is its best feature.

  2. Kenneth Barna permalink
    March 22, 2012 8:45 am

    Dear cmadler,
    Briggs Hall was supposed to be just the first phase of a full sized field house. It was going to be expanded after the initial building was completed, but several things occurred that changed everything. Mr. Briggs got out of the professional baseball business, and sold the Tigers and the stadium that bore his name. Eastern, decided that Briggs Hall was no longer feasible as the location for the field house, (parking being part of the equation) and funding from the State of Michigan increased for future development.

  3. Kenneth Barna permalink
    March 22, 2012 8:52 am

    Dear cmadler,
    I forgot to add when talking about Mr. Briggs, that he passed away in 1952, and therefore a possible funding source dried up. It was his son that sold the stadium and team to John Fetzer in the late ’50’s.

  4. Ken permalink
    March 22, 2012 1:37 pm

    Kenneth Barna,
    Thank you for that information.

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