Betsy Barbour House

Betsy Barbour House

In 1917 the Honorable Levi L. Barbour (1863, 1865l ) for many years a Regent gave $100,000 and several parcels of land to be used for a women’s dormitory in memory of his mother. Regent Barbour had traveled extensively before World War I, and in his travels he came in contact with two brilliant Chinese women whom he brought back with him and sent them to the University to be educated. One of these women developed tuberculosis and died. Mr. Barbour investigated living conditions on campus and found them decidedly inferior. It was his dream to build an ideal dormitory.

The building was completed in October, 1920. Mr. Barbour was ill and never saw the dormitory actually occupied. It was dedicated to his mother and he took great pains to see that her favorite antique rocker was placed in the small reception room on the first floor.

The reception rooms on the first floor contained many pieces of furniture from Regent Barbour’s home in Detroit. He also bequeathed a valuable library and many paintings and objects of art collected by him on his many travels, in addition to pictures and certain gifts for the students’ rooms.

Betsy Barbour House provided living accommodations for eighty-one women in sixty-nine single and six double rooms. The need of additional housing for women made it necessary to increase the capacity of the house by 1954 so that 116 women were accommodated in the building. In 1953 the large single rooms were made into double rooms. The remodeling resulted in thirty-two single and forty-two double rooms which were refurnished in 1953-54.

Ruth Gjelsness (The University of Michigan : An Ecyclopedic Survey, p.1715)

Betsy Barbour Residence (left) Helen Newberry Residence (right)

Betsy Barbour Parlors