The aid received from the federal government in the building of West Quadrangle and Victor C. Vaughan House paved the way for the construction of Stockwell Hall and East Quadrangle. Professor Lewis M. Gram, Director of Physical Plant Extension, submitted a communication to the Regents on August 22, 1938, proposing the construction of the Health Service, a women's dormitory (Stockwell Hall), and an addition of two floors to the University Hospital. The Regents acted favorably on this proposal and added a fourth project for a men's dormitory to accommodate 410 men and to make an addition to the University Power Plant. Application to Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works was authorized, and the grant amounting to $630,000 for the men's dormitory and Power Plant alterations was accepted October 29, 1938. The Public Works Program provided for a federal grant amounting to 45 per cent of the cost.
Morrison and Gabler of Detroit were selected as architects, and preliminary plans and specifications were approved at the December, 1938, meeting of the Regents. The all-trades contract was awarded to the Bryant and Detwiler Company of Detroit in the amount of $647,817 on February 24, 1939.
The project (PWA Project Docket, Michigan 1714-F) became known almost immediately as East Quadrangle. It was on the north half of the block bounded by East University, Hill, Church, and Willard streets. Some difficulty was encountered in obtaining some of this property; however, the Cuyahoga Wrecking Company of Cleveland, Ohio, succeeded in completing the demolition without any serious delay to the general contractor. The fireproof building had a brick exterior with limestone trim, was four floors in height, and contained 143,977 square feet. In plan it had an inner court completely surrounded to form a hollow square and was divided into four houses with no intercommunication except through the court. Two dining rooms for two houses each and the kitchen were on the first floor, south side. At either end of the commons running along the dining rooms were entrances from East University Avenue (main entrance) and Church Street. Each house had its own lounge, recreation room, study room, and suites for resident advisers and associate advisers. As originally designed there were 167 double rooms and 114 single rooms providing accommodations for 398 students.
The houses, in honor of former professors at the University, were named: Burke Aaron Hinsdale House (the west unit facing East University Avenue), Charles Ezra Greene House (the north unit facing Willard Street), Moses Coit Tyler House (the east unit facing Church Street), Albert Benjamin Prescott House (the south unit). Hinsdale House until the beginning of World War II was used as a house for graduate and professional students.
East Quadrangle was formally accepted by the Regents on March 1, 1940, and was opened to students in the fall of 1941. The completed cost of the project was $1,083,551.
The war years left their mark in East Quadrangle through its use as a housing unit for enlistees of the Military Intelligence Department, the Army Air Force, and Army Engineers. The first indications of the military atmosphere came in the fall of 1942, when a group of forty freshmen R.O.T.C. students elected to live in East Quadrangle in barrack style under the direction and supervision of the chairman of the Department of Military Science and Tactics. They became known as the Steuben Guards and continued their role under Army discipline until the end of the semester, when East Quadrangle was vacated to make room for the Army groups, specializing in the study of the Japanese language and in training as weather observers. These contractual arrangements with the armed forces continued until July 1, 1945, when two of the houses were released for civilian use, and later on January 1, 1946, all government contracts at East Quadrangle were terminated. The four houses soon filled up with freshmen and returning war veterans.
With prospects of a large enrollment following the war the Regents authorized a study of residence halls expansion in January, 1945. It was decided to proceed with plans for financing additional housing units, one of which was an addition to East Quadrangle.
Immediate steps were taken to purchase the property in the south half of the block, and Andrew Morison was appointed as the architect. The George A. Fuller Company was given the contract for the construction as part of a cost plus fixed fee managerial contract under which other campus buildings were being constructed. Ground was broken in May, 1947, and the first two houses (Henry Clay Anderson and Charles Horton Cooley) were ready for occupancy in the fall of 1947. Joseph Ralston Hayden and Louis Abraham Strauss houses were completed just before the Christmas recess. The dining services for the addition were completed and ready for use when the residents returned from the holidays. The names given to the houses were those of former distinguished members of the faculty. The new houses were filled beyond capacity by students who had been given housing accommodations at Willow Run. The complete capacity of East Quadrangle including the addition was 924, but because of the extreme shortage of housing three men were assigned to each double room and two to single rooms, thus 1,480 men were accommodated in the fall of 1948.
The addition, of 153,039 square feet, was “U” shaped and was attached to the original building at the south end of the kitchen wing, forming two open courts facing East University Avenue. The architecture was similar to that of the original building. The completed cost of the project was $2,304,964. As in the original building each house had its own lounge and recreation rooms. Suites were also provided for the advisers, and an office for the addition was adjacent to the entrance on East University Avenue. The residents of the four houses ate in two dining rooms on the first floor.
The great demand for housing for women led to a decision to assign Tyler and Prescott houses to women in the fall of 1952. The opening of South Quadrangle and the return to a more normal housing situation for men gave impetus to the decision. This move caused great concern to the men of East Quadrangle, who had just nicely begun to re-establish their customs and house organizations following the war. It was a great disappointment to them and especially to those who were displaced by this turn of events. The women were received with some reluctance; however, it was not long before their acceptance was complete and they became a part of the East Quadrangle organization. The “coed” residence hall thus established by necessity became popular with the residents and was instrumental in the planning of a future residence for men and women. Properly designed and administered with consideration for the activities of both men and women it should prove to be a forward step in the advancement of the Michigan House plan.
As the University enrollment began to increase the necessity for additional housing became critical. In order to provide some relief the capacity of East Quadrangle was increased to 1,050 in 1953, by making permanent triple rooms of large doubles and double rooms of large single rooms. The work was carried on by the Henry deKoning Company, of Ann Arbor at a cost of $65,393.
Francis C. Shiel (The University of Michigan: An Encylopedic Survey, p. 1707)