Dental Building - 1908


Dental Building



For more than thirty years the Dental School was forced to shift from one building to another, and as a result, it had the distinction of having occupied three of the four original Professorsʼ Houses, which were the first buildings on the campus.

In 1903 President Angell stated that an entirely new building was needed for the Dental Department “which is wretchedly housed” (Regent's Proceedings, 1901-6, p. 225), and in 1905, when the Regents sought the services of Dr. W. D. Miller, of Berlin, as Dean, they assured him that a new dental building would be erected as soon as possible.

In 1906 Donaldson and Meier, architects, were requested to draw up plans and specifications for a new building, and in April of the following year the plans were accepted, and bids were authorized. The contractors were Koch Brothers, of Ann Arbor. In June the property on the east side of North University Avenue, adjacent to the Homeopathic Hospital, was purchased for the site (Regent's Proceedings, 1906-10, pp. 142-43). It was to cost not more than $18,500, and the three buildings then standing on the site were moved to vacant lots which the University proposed to buy for $3,500. Later, $115,000 was set aside from the building fund for the erection of the new Dental Building. Construction was begun in 1907 (Regent's Proceedings, 1906-10, p. 158).

In September, 1908, President Angell reported that the Dental Building, which was almost ready for occupancy, would be one of the finest in the entire country (Regent's Proceedings, 1906-10, p. 349). It was occupied in October, 1908, but formal dedication exercises did not take place until May, 1909. More than sixty clinics were conducted by dentists from various parts of the country, with more than two hundred alumni in attendance. The formal exercises, held in the main amphitheater, were opened with an address by President Angell, followed by a banquet in Barbour Gymnasium.


The structure, which consisted of two stories and a basement, was 167 by 119 feet and had a gross floor area of 64,971 square feet. The basement was of dressed Bedford limestone; the upper walls of red vitreous brick were trimmed with Bedford limestone, and the roof was red flat tile. The fireproof building was heated from the central heating plant. Ventilation was supplied by two large fans in the attic and by separate vent pipes in every room. A humidifying system for the clinic was in the basement.

The basement contained large locker rooms for both men and women, as well as a dental materials laboratory, book vault, storeroom, photographic rooms, and a small lecture room.

The main floor was devoted to the library and reading room, administrative offices, the office of the stock and dispensing clerk, the dental bacteriology laboratory, and the temperature rooms. On the north side of the main floor was a lecture room, prosthetic laboratory, and the freshman and sophomore technic laboratories, each of which contained a large preparation room and storage rooms for the studentsʼ work.

A double stairway of marble and iron lead to the second floor, where a waiting room for patients occupied a central space. To the right were the X-ray Laboratory and Oral Surgery demonstration room, and to the left an amphitheater, an examination and appointment room, and two rooms for the Department of Crown and Bridge Prosthesis. The entire north half of the floor was devoted to an operating room, 72 by 166 feet, well lighted by skylights and large windows, and equipped with 133 dental chairs. A gallery, ten feet wide, in the rear of the room was used for departmental offices and for special clinic work.


In 1922-23 an addition to the Dental Building was built by John Bollin Company of Detroit. The building was enlarged to the north by an extension of 38 feet 5 inches, under the supervision of state architect Lynn W. Fry. This increased the total floor space by 19,248 square feet.

Dental Building Addition


Dental Building with Addition Interior

Although there had been no addition to the Dental Building since 1923, there had been several alterations. In 1942 the two technic laboratories on the first floor were rehabilitated under the terms of a gift from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. An amount of $113,000 was granted by the Foundation “for alterations and purchase of equipment for the undergraduate technical laboratories of the School of Dentistry and for the purchase of technical and clinical instrument outfits to be used by undergraduate dental students” (Regent's Proceedings, 1939-42, p. 887).

The entrance to the Dental Building was remodeled with funds donated by the members of the dental class of 1917. This gift was presented in honor of Dr. Marcus L. Ward, former Dean of the School of Dentistry, and suitable plaques were erected. The entrance was dedicated in June, 1947.

After the construction of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Institute the Oral Surgery clinic was moved to new quarters in that building. This allowed an expansion of the X-ray Laboratory into that part of the Dental Building formerly used for oral surgery. The dental classes of 1918 and 1923 presented a gift of approximately $4,500 to remodel the X-ray Laboratory and to purchase new equipment. At the reunion of these classes in June, 1948, the laboratory was dedicated as a memorial to Dr. U. G. Rickert, formerly Professor of Diagnosis, Dental Therapeutics, and Radiology, who died on October 21, 1938.

The most significant change in the Dental Building took place in 1949, when the main operating clinic on the second floor was completely rehabilitated. New dental chairs, units, and cabinets were installed for the use of the clinic classes. The cost of this project was $295,000, and the clinic now contained ninety-four chairs, which were shared by junior and senior students on alternate days. There were also thirty-nine chairs for the use of dental hygienists. The clinic of the Dental Building was one of the most modern and well equipped to be found in the world.

In the 1950ʼs several areas of the building were remodeled to allow more efficient use of the available space for instructional needs. In 1950 the Dental Materials Laboratory was expanded, and the West Laboratory was remodeled to allow a capacity of 185 student benches. In 1952 the West Lecture Room was replaced with a Prosthetic Laboratory containing the most recent types of equipment. At that time the menʼs locker room was also modernized and expanded. In 1953 the Crown and Bridge Laboratory and Examination Room was enlarged.

William R. Mann (The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey, p. 1612)

Dental Building (right)