ANN ARBOR, MI – For 185 years, the University of Michigan has left its mark on Ann Arbor. Some of those marks are no longer around.
UM was established in Detroit in 1817 and moved to Ann Arbor in 1837. That was the same year Michigan became a state, and the young city of Ann Arbor had less than 5,000 residents, according to census data.
The ensuing nearly 200 years led to development to support a population in excess of 120,000, meaning old UM landmarks were demolished, covered or are simply no more.
Documentation from UM archives such as the Bentley Historical Library, as well as the federal Library of Congress, show what these lost UM locales looked like. Here are 10 examples.
Chi Psi Lodge
The Chi Psi Fraternity at University of Michigan is considered the first national fraternity to have a building of its own. Now located at 620 S. State St. near downtown Ann Arbor, the first Chi Psi “lodge” was a log cabin at Forest Hill Cemetery off Observatory Street.
According to the UM Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, author Frank Whitman described the cabin as: “Here in the wood, on a spot where now stands the chapel of the new [Forest Hill Cemetery], and about three-quarters of a mile from any house.”
Faculty and the UM Board of Regents attempted to ban fraternities from campus in 1850, according to a bicentennial history of UM by Ann Duderstadt. Chi Psi and Alpha Delta Phi appealed to local voters to oust the regents in favor of a board that would fire all faculty opposed to Greek Life.
They succeeded, Duderstadt wrote, as all of the regents were ousted in a future election. This led to the firing of all but two professors by the new board, she wrote.
“The fraternities had secured their right to foster their brotherhood,” Duderstadt wrote.
Under the area near the current Power Center, 121 Fletcher St., are the remains of a marshy pond known as “The Cat Hole.”
Historical testimony from as early as the 1870s shows that UM students used the pond for dunking freshman in the fall, as well as skating in the winter, according to the “Lost Campus” project by UM historian James Tobin. The “Cat Hole” name possibly comes from medical students dumping the remains of dissected animals used for anatomical study into the pond, Tobin wrote.
The pond had a ravine that led approximately along a path from Glen Street past what is now Angelo’s Restaurant toward the Huron River, Tobin wrote.
Construction and time covered up the Cat Hole, Tobin wrote, but when the parking structure behind the Power Center was under construction, the source of the pond’s water was found.
Before its decommission in 2014, the North Hall ROTC Building off North University Avenue was the second oldest building on campus other than the President’s House.
More than 5,000 Army, Air Force Marine and Navy officers passed through the North Hall doors, including Army ROTC cadet and future “Star Wars” star James Earl Jones.
Ground was broken for North Hall in 1899 and the building opened one year later as a homeopathic hospital. The hospital transferred to more mainstream medicine in 1926 and had a capacity of 140 beds.
The Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps program moved into the building in 1940 and was later joined by the Army, Marines and Air Force programs. The building has at times been a flashpoint for controversy and was firebombed three times during the Vietnam War era in the late 1960s and ‘70s.
The building is now home to the biology building, and the Officer Education Program was moved to the Chemistry Building and Ruthven Building.
From UM’s early days to about World War I, “The Boulevard” was a sloped dirt road that students would traverse from the Huron River to a summit that would overlook Ann Arbor.
According to Tobin, the road was sometimes called Cedar Bend Avenue, but was commonly known as “The Boulevard.”
Former Washtenaw County Probate Judge Noah Cheever, a UM graduate around the time of the Civil War, said the path would draw “as many as 900 on a beautiful spring or fall day.”
The views would overlook the farms that are now Island and Fuller Parks, the former medical complex called the Catherine Street Hospitals, the part of campus where Angell Hall currently stands and St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church on Elizabeth Street.
Ann Arbor purchased the land surrounding “The Boulevard” in the early 1900s, Tobin wrote, and formed the city’s first park. National erosion of the path made it no longer visible, Tobin wrote.
Former segregated dorm for Black students
A house that used to stand at 1102 E. Ann St. was a dorm and social hub for Black UM students during segregation.
Built in 1907, according to UM historian Brian Williams, the house received the blessing of former UM President C.C. Little and other officials to become a dormitory for Black girls.
“The two-story frame house on East Ann was not a particularly attractive property,” Williams wrote, adding that the next few decades saw developments of railroads to deliver coal to the Central Campus power plant.
Despite the railway and the accompanying noise, former UM Dean of Women Alice Lloyd said in the early 1930s Black women “were for the first time housed in a dignified and satisfactory way in the League house at 1102 East Ann Street.”
Williams also wrote that the house was a “social hub for African American students.” Women from all races were eventually allowed to live together in student residence halls in 1950. The East Ann Street house was razed in 1946, and Michigan Medicine facilities are in its place.
The Ann Arbor campus used to be home to a series of outhouses, according to Tobin.
Based on a special photo collection by Sam Sturgis, Tobin wrote that one of these outhouses was perhaps sarcastically known as “Campus Beauty.”
“It appears to have 14 private compartments — presumably half for men and half for women,” Tobin wrote. “Behind it one can see the cupolas of UM’s old Homeopathic Hospital, which stood on the site of the Kraus Natural Sciences Building until the early 20th century.”
Old University Hospital
In 1869, northeast residences on the UM campus were converted into the University Hospital. The addition of two pavilions were added to the rear of the building in 1876, giving the annex the name “The Pavilion Hospital.”
The building continued its serve as a hospital until 1891, when the University Hospital moved to new quarters on Catherine Street, according to university records. The complex, including the Pavilion annex, was torn down in 1908 to make room for a new chemistry building.
The upcoming $920-million Michigan Medicine facility on corner of Ann Street and Zina Pitcher Place will be called the Pavilion at University of Michigan Health. It is scheduled to open in fall 2025.
In the early 1900s, two natural amphitheaters formed across the street from each other off Observatory Street. They became known as the first and second iterations of a place called Sleepy Hollow, Tobin wrote.
The area near Palmer Field was the location for the first Sleepy Hollow, and became famous for housing “Cap Night,” where thousands of students would light their freshman caps in a great bonfire to mark their transition into sophomores.
The first Sleepy Hollow formed in 1905 and ran from the the rear of Detroit Observatory to the Palmer Field tennis courts, Tobin wrote. The Cap Night ceremonies there turned into a “massive parade,” he wrote.
The second Sleepy Hollow location crossed the street to an empty patch of land toward a slope toward what is now C.S. Mott Children Hospital, Tobin wrote. The tradition faded by the 1940s, and development covered the two locations.
Waterman and Barbour Gyms
UM is home to a slew of recreation and exercise options for students, from the Intramural Sports Building to the North and Central campus recreation buildings.
However, the Waterman and Barbour gymnasiums were the first of their kind on campus. The former was built for male students in 1894, while the latter was built for female students in 1898, according to university records.
Waterman housed practices for the UM baseball team, as well as an indoor running track and locker room facilities. Through a large set of doors, you could walk to Barbour, which housed physical education classes for women, as well as social events.
Both were torn down in 1977.
Yes, there was a zoo at University of Michigan through its zoology department.
Located on the corner of North University and Washtenaw avenues, the zoo was built in 1929 to present the zoology department’s living Michigan mammals to the public, Tobin wrote. The first occupants of the zoo were a badger, a red fox, six raccoons, a pair of porcupines, four skunks and two black bears.
It became known simply as the Zoo, Tobin wrote, and children loved it.
“Occasional checks for one day showed that hundreds of children and adults were coming,” Tobin wrote.
However, the animal accommodations were abysmal, Tobin wrote, describing little space for movement and poor sanitation. The zoo closed in 1962 and sent its residents to Grayling in northern Michigan.
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