The Law Quadrangle
William Cook (1880,1882l) planned to endow a professorship of law of corporations, but eventually made possible the development of the Law Quadrangle.
The five buildings comprising the Law Quadrangle were constructed during the decade of 1923-33 on two city blocks purchased by the University: Lawyers Club, Dormitory Wing, John P. Cook Dormitory, Legal Research, and Hutchins Hall.
The buildings, in the Tudor Gothic style recalled the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge and the Inns of Court in London, although the demands of modern life and academic programs necessitated many departures from English precedent. The group was constructed of Weymouth seam-faced granite, with trim of Indiana limestone.
William Wilson Cook, was born in Hillsdale, Michigan, on April 16, 1858. He attended public schools in Hillsdale and the preparatory department of Hillsdale College. He received his bachelor's degree in 1880 and a law degree in 1882 from Michigan. He worked in the law firm of William B. Coudert in New York. He retired from practice in 1921 to do research and write. In 1924 Cook's fortune was estimated at between twenty to thirty million. After a brief marriage and divorce, he lived alone, in his New York townhouse and his estate at Port Chester, New York.
The first group of buildings of the Law Quadrangle to be built were those comprising the Lawyers Club, the Dining Hall and the first section of the dormitories.
A lobby connected the lounge with the Tudor Gothic dining hall to the west. This magnificent room was 140 feet in length and 34 feet wide, and accommodated 300 at heavy oak refectory tables. The hammer-beamed ceiling, 50 feet above the floor, was sustained by beams carved from old oak ship-timbers. The walls were of Indiana limestone with beautiful dark oak paneled wainscoting, above there were eighteen large windows of cathedral glass with English Gothic tracery. The floor was inlaid with marbles of different hues.
Lawyers Club Dining Hall Interior
In the corner of the group, facing South University Avenue and State Street, was the Lawyers Club building proper, of which the principal feature was the great lounge on the first floor, largely Renaissance in spirit, with highvaulted plastered ceiling and floor of wide white oak fastened with dowels. The walls were of dark oak paneling with a huge fireplace at the east end. Tapestries added to the attractiveness of the room, which was used as a general headquarters by the students living in the Quadrangle. Above, eight well-furnished and comfortable guest rooms provided accommodations for visiting lawyers who wished to utilize the research facilities of the Law School. A large game room and cloak rooms were housed below the main lounge,
On the exterior, turrets marked each corner of the building, while massive oak-bound studded doors opened on the court and into the connecting lobby. Beyond the dining hall were large, well-equipped kitchens.
On the walls of the lobby were two rare tapestries, one of the Renaissance period, the other medieval, presented by Mr. Cook. The floor of the lobby was brown tile, as were the floors of the stairs and halls of the dormitories. On either side of the lobby were the administrative offices of the Quadrangle and a faculty dining room with beautiful furnishings and ornamental fireplace.
The dormitory wing extended for two blocks eastward from the Lawyers Club Building on South University Avenue for 445 feet. Its peaked and gabled roof was covered with vari-hued slate shingles. Chimneys in groups of four rose above the nine sections, each of which had a separate entrance marked by medieval lanterns bearing the section letter in the glass. Water was available in each room, and there was a bathroom for each section. This first part of the dormitory provided accommodations for 197 men.
The Dormitory Wing Tower, containing suites of student rooms, was surmounted by four turrets connected by an ornamental stone railing capped by Byzantine spires.
Law Quadrangle Dormitory Wing - facing the courtyard
The John P. Cook Building was opened for occupancy in the fall of 1930. It housed 152, thus affording rooms in the entire Quadrangle for 352 students. This second unit, extending from the east wing of the dormitory on South University Avenue 212 feet southward along Tappan Street, followed closely the architectural style of the Lawyers Club, with the same general arrangement of the sections. The rooms were somewhat larger, however, and the appointments slightly better. This section, which contained an additional floor, was built as a memorial to Mr. John P. Cook, the donor's father, and near the center of the building was a memorial room to him, with carved, paneled oak walls and stained glass windows. The room contained a full-length portrait of him by the artist, Henry Caro-Delvaille.
Of the Law Quadrangle group the William W. Cook Legal Research Building was the most striking. It was in harmony with the other buildings of the group although more massive in general design. The main part formed one vast paneled library 244 feet long, 44 feet wide, and 50 feet high, with seating capacity for 500. The exterior of the building was marked by four massive pentacle towers, which, with the long row of arched and tracery windows extending the length of the building, emphasized the essential Gothic spirit of the architectural scheme and, at the same time, imparted a rugged and individual beauty to the building.
An archway of carved stone at the entrance led into a vestibule where one could proceed directly to the main reading room or go down to the lounges and smoking rooms in the basement. The reading room gave an impression of architectural and decorative splendor. The ceiling was its most beautiful and interesting feature. Constructed of large plaster medallions paneled and decorated in blue and gold, it had heavy tie-beams running across it at the ends of which were carved figures which held escutcheons bearing coats of arms of various heraldic designs. The stone walls were paneled in a carved oak to the height of 15 feet, above which high windows of tinted glass, bearing seals of the colleges and universities of the world, cast a soft light. The room had recessed bookshelves for 10,000 volumes of statutes, reports, digests, and encyclopedias. Long narrow alcoves opening off the main room also contained bookshelves holding about 20,000 volumes.
Immediately above the reading room, or the floor corresponding to the ninth-stack level, were thirty-two offices for the use of visiting lawyers, members of the faculty, and research workers. One of these rooms contained the private library of the donor, William W. Cook, arranged as nearly as possible as it was in his New York home and with the original furniture and decorations.
At the rear of the main reading room was the delivery desk from which passages gave access to the tiers of stack rooms. This part of the building, of separate construction, was originally six book levels in height, and held approximately 210,000 volumes. In 1955 the stack structure was increased to ten levels with a total book capacity of approximately 350,000 volumes. In this structure there were 64 carrels and 31 offices for faculty members and graduate students. From level seven a bridge led across to the third floor of Hutchins Hall, where the administrative offices of the Law School were situated. A connecting passageway from the basement of the library also led to the basement and first floor of Hutchins Hall.
William W. Cook Legal Research
With the construction of Hutchins Hall which was opened to classes in the fall of 1933, the Law Quadrangle was completed. This building was named, in accordance with Mr. Cook's desire, for Harry B. Hutchins, Dean of the Law School from 1895 to 1909 and President of the University from 1909 to 1920. It stood on the northeast corner of Monroe and State streets with entrances on both streets. The building, which afforded about 104,000 square feet of floor space, had two wings, one extending for 190 feet on State Street and the other for 230 feet on Monroe Street, with corridors running the length of the wings on each of the four floors and classrooms and seminar rooms opening from them. On the first two floors, the corridors were finished in lime-faced brick with floors of sound-absorbing tile. On the first floor, extending north and east, they enclosed a charming court and gave access to the main Quadrangle entrance to the building, as well as to the Legal Research Building.
Constructed with a view to future expansion, Hutchins Hall had, in all, nine classrooms seating from fifty to 265 students each, and four seminar rooms seating from twelve to thirty-five students. A reading room on the second floor, with adjoining stacks to hold 3,000 volumes, was large enough to seat 220 students. These classrooms were especially well adapted to their purpose, with rubber tiled floors in various color patterns and special acoustics.
The faculty and administrative offices on the third floor provided accommodations for the dean and the secretary as well as committee rooms, general offices, and a spacious lounge. The offices on this floor all had convenient access to a staff library which was equipped with stacks for 25,000 volumes. There were also offices on the fourth floor including those of the Michigan Law Review.
An appropriately furnished alumni room on the first floor contained class pictures, beginning with the class of 1873; these were displayed on specially constructed racks. On the second floor was a practice courtroom furnished with jury box, witness box, judge's bench, and benches for sixty auditors, modeled after those found in the court of the Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench in England.
The final cost of Hutchins Hall was $1,191,074.29. The final value of the various buildings of the Law Quadrangle, including equipment and books, was $8,643,370. This was exclusive of the endowment and other gifts given by Mr. Cook to the University.
At the April 30, 1931, Regent’s Meeting, at the request of William Cook, the new Law Building was named in honor of Harry Burns Hutchins. Harry Hutchins received his degree from the University of Michigan in 1871. He served as dean of the Law School from 1895 until 1909 when he became interim President. He then served as President from 1910 until 1920.
The Law Quadrangle
John P. Cook Dormitory (1) Dormitory Wing (2) Lawyers Club Lounge (3)
Dining Hall (4) Hutchins Hall (5) William W. Cook Legal Research (6)
The Lawyers Club buildings formed a magnificent Quadrangle open only at the southeast corner. A great central tower on the north side with the passageway beneath constituted a formal entrance to the Law School. As far as is known, Mr. Cook never saw any of the buildings his generosity had made possible. His only reason for not visiting the University was that it “might spoil his dream.”
Wilfred Shaw (The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey, p. 1670)
By the 1980s more room was need for the books in the Law Library. It was too expensive to continue the law school architecture, so as not to intrude on the architecture an underground library became the solution. It was named in honor of Allan and Alene Smith. Allan had been a member of the law faculty, Dean of Law from 1960-1965, and Vice President for Academic Affairs from 1965 to 1979. He served as interim President in 1979. Alene was very active in the community and the university