West Professors’ House on North University

Professors' House

A modest building plan for the University of Michigan campus called for the construction of six buildings, two to serve as dormitories and classrooms, and four as Professors’ Houses.

Four identical Professors’ Houses were to be completed by July of 1840. Two were located on North University and two on South University. The two-story plan included a central hall with two rooms opening off each side. The same arrangement was repeated on the second floor. Each room had a fireplace. The houses had low-pitched tin roofs. Wood houses, cisterns, and barns were provided for each.

The houses were also to be used for the storage of the Cabinet of Natural History, Library, Philosophical Apparatus, and other general purposes of the University until the main buildings could be finished.

The contracts which the Building Committee made for the erection of these houses amounted in each case to $7,712.50 or $30,850 for the four. Each house had about 4,800 square feet of floor space and measured 36 by 44 feet in size.

Sketch of the campus from a student letter


Regent’s Proceedings, January 31, 1839 p. 70

, That the Building Committee be authorized to contract for materials for erecting and furnishing four buildings for the use of the Professors of the University and to be used until the main buildings of the University be completed for the reception of the Cabinet of Natural History, Library, Philosophical Apparatus, and for other general purposes of the University; and to contract for the erecting and finishing the same; and that the said Committee cause to be prepared plans of the said buildings and submit the same to this Board with all convenient speed.

Regent’s Proceedings, March 26, 1839 p. 77

, That the Committee on University Buildings be instructed to cause the fronts of the four buildings now authorized to be erected on the University grounds, to be constructed facing inwards to the said grounds, which was laid on the table.

Regent’s Proceedings, July 13, 1839 p. 93

Resolved, That the Building Committee be instructed to give notice to Mr. Thompson that the contract between him as Superintendent of the University Building and said Committee is annulled by order of the Board of Regents.

Resolved, That the resolution heretofore adopted by the Board of Regents, appropriating a sum of money to pay office rent for the Superintendent and Building Committee, is here rescinded.

, That the Building Committee be requested to contract with Mr. Lum for the completion of the last two buildings mentioned in the contract in all respects agreeable to the specifications mentioned in the two first, at the same rate at which he has contracted to finish the said two first buildings.

Regent’s Proceedings, July 13, 1839 p. 94

, That the Building Committee be requested to obtain from the Superintendent plans and estimates for the construction of fences and out-houses for the several buildings so that the space between the two houses at each end of the lot shall be included by continuous fences, both in the front and rear, and equal lots appropriated for the use of each house.

Regent’s Proceedings, March 6, 1840 p. 125 - Report on the four Professors’ Houses

By an order of the Board of Regents of the 11th February, 1839, all further proceedings to erect the University Buildings according to the plan adopted in September, 1838, were suspended and the Building Committee by the resolution were directed to give notice to Alexander J. Davis and Issac Thompson, that the Board of Regents would put an end to the contract made with them on the 18th September, 1838, as Architect and Superintendent; and the Committee were further directed by that resolution to make a new contract with Mr. Thompson to superintend the building of four houses on the University grounds at Ann Arbor, and to proceed to erect those houses according to plans adopted by the Regents.

On the same day (February 11, 1839) the Committee also made a new contract with Mr. Thompson to superintend the building of the four houses above mentioned, the compensation to be at the rate of $1000 per annum; and by the advice of Mr. Thompson, the Committee on the 14th February last, entered into a contract with Haspier Lum, to erect and finish those houses by which they agreed to give him the sum of $7,500 for each of two of the houses to be completed finished, and the sum of $6000 for each of the other two houses to be finished except as to certain parts of the interior, amounting in all to the sum of $27,500, the houses to be finished by the first of July, 1840.

On the 4th of March last (1839), the Committee by the advice of the Superintendent, and being satisfied that it would be an improvement upon the buildings as well in respect to economy as durability, made a further contract with Mr. Lum by which he was to finish the exterior of the buildings in rough cast, or stucco, for which he was to receive the further sum of $250 for each house.

And on the 22d June (1939), the Committee made a further contract with Mr. Lum, by which he was to construct a terrace on each of the houses, for the further sum of $12.50 for each house.

On the 13th July (1839) the Board of Regents passed an order directing the Committee to contract with Mr. Lum to finish the interior of all the houses upon the terms and in the manner specified in the original contract, and in pursuance thereof, the Committee entered into such contract. The result of these contracts is that Mr. Lum is to be paid the sum of $7,712.50 for each house, amounting in all to $30,850.

The University of Michigan campus by Jasper Cropsey - 1855

Professors’ Houses on South University facing the center of the campus
From the Jasper Cropsey painting

University of Michigan campus from the northeast across the “Cathole”

Professors’ Houses facing North University

Professors’ House

Facing North and South University

Professors’ House facing the center of campus
(This is the west house on North University)

Professors who lived in the west Professors’ House on North University

ca. 1840-1860
George Palmer Williams

George Palmer Williams

Reverend George Palmer Williams served as Principal of the University's Pontiac branch from 1837 to 1841. In 1841 Williams was appointed to the chair of Ancient Languages but was soon transferred to Mathematics. Professor Williams welcomed the first students to the University of Michigan. As President of the Faculty he gave diplomas to the first class that graduated, and from the day of his appointment to the hour of his death his official connection with the University was never broken.

Regent’s Proceedings, September 1844, p. 292

Resolved, that the Executive Committee be authorized to obtain insurance upon the University Buildings at Ann Arbor, and to erect such temporary barns, sheds, and other fixtures in and about the Professors’ Houses as they shall deem just and expedient at the expense of this Board, and report thereon to this Board

Regent’s Proceedings, January 7, 1847 p. 358

Resolved, That the Board will consider themselves under obligations to meet the expenses of all repairs necessary for the preservation of the freehold from injury induced by decay of materials and weather, excepting stoves, and such like unavoidable uses, but that the expenses growing out of all incidental injury from the use of the buildings, such as breaking of glass, shutters and damage done by occupants, or alterations and accommodations for their convenience and taste be met by the Professors.

Regent’s Proceedings, July 18, 1848 p. 399

Rev. Mr. Allen presented an account and claim of S. B. Noble against the University for fruit trees and shrubbery furnished professor Whiting and prayed payment for the same or leave to remove the trees.

Resolved, that the sum of $20 per year for the three succeeding years be appropriated for the purchase of and planting of fruit trees in the gardens attached to the dwelling houses of the University Grounds and that the Superintendent of Grounds carry this resolution into effect.

Regent’s Proceedings, July 18, 1848 p. 400

On motion of Mr. Taylor it was ordered that the Superintendent be directed to cause door bells to be put on the Professors’ Houses.

Regent’s Proceedings, July 9, 1849 p. 416

Resolved, That the Executive Committee be instructed to report at our next Annual Meeting upon the propriety of increasing the salary of the non-resident Professors to an amount, according to their respective salaries, equal to the value of house rent provided for the resident Professors and if they report favorably, that they define the amount.

Regent’s Proceedings, July 17, 1849 p. 421

Resolved, That it be referred to the Executive Committee to inquire into and report tomorrow morning on the expediency and probable cost of erecting stables for the Professors’ Houses.

Regent’s Proceedings, July 18, 1849 p. 422

On the subject of allowing rent to non-resident Professors, recommending the payment of $50 per term to each for the time they shall be respectively actually engaged in the duties of their Professorships. And, that the same committee contract for the erection of a wood-house to each of the buildings on the University lands at Ann Arbor, agreeable to the plan furnished by Mr. Thompson. And that the same Committee be authorized to contract for a cistern to each of the houses, and to dig another well when they deem it expedient.

Regent’s Proceedings, June 1854 p. 548

Professor William’s house has been painted according to order. To put him on an equality with the others there should be a pump placed in his basement connected with the cistern by lead pipe and about $25 of other improvements made. There has a piece of stucco fallen from the east end of his house, but as it is much more expensive in proportion to have a small job of it done alone, I would recommend that the replacement of it be deferred until some time when men are employed on the grounds about other similar work. Professor William’s house, pump, lead pipe, and setting, $22.63, and other permanent improvements, $25,00, a total $47.63.

Regents Proceedings, May 1856 p. 643

Resolved, That each of the Professors of the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts from and after the 1st of July next be paid quarterly at the rate of $1,500 per annum, except those who occupy the Professors’ Houses, who shall be paid at the rate of $1,250 per annum; and that $250 per annum be added to the present salary of the President to be paid quarterly as above.

Regent’s Proceedings, June 1860 p. 906

Resolved, That a sum not to exceed $250 be appropriated for the building of a barn upon the premises now occupied by Professor Williams, to be expended under the direction of the Executive Committee. Adopted.

Regent’s Proceedings, September 1860 p. 917

That no further lease be granted for the house now occupied by Professor Williams.

Regent’s Proceedings, March 1863 p. 970

Resolved, That Regent McIntyre and Professor Williams be a Committee to examine the house lately occupied by Professor Williams and put it in such repair as may be necessary to preserve the property, and that Regent McIntyre be authorized to rent said building.

Regent’s Proceedings, September, 1861 p. 968

Whereas, The rates of rent charged to those persons occupying the dwelling houses belonging to the University Grounds are much less than the current charges for rent throughout the city, therefore,

Resolved, That from and after October 1, 1861, all persons occupying these dwellings be required as a further condition of rent to keep the same in good tenantable repair at their own expense except when otherwise especially authorized by the Board.

Resolved, That the Chairman of the Finance Committee be directed to rent the dwelling house now vacant upon the University Grounds upon the best terms he can procure giving the preference to a Professor of the University should any such desire to rent the place, but otherwise to any suitable tenant.

Regent’s Proceedings, February 16, 1864 p. 17

, That the Executive Committee be authorized to lease the vacant residences, for one year, at a rent of not less than two hundred and fifty dollars each per annum.

ca. 1864
Helen E. Putnam

Regent’s Proceedings, March 1864 p. 28

President Haven, from the Executive Committee, reported that the unoccupied dwelling house on the north side of the University grounds had been leased for one year from the 19th instant to Mrs. Helen E. Putnam, at a rent of two hundred and fifty dollars per annum.  (It is not clear if this was the east or west dwelling on North University.)

Regent’s Proceedings, March 31, 1869 p. 321

On the motion of Regent Gilbert, the Executive Committee together with Professor Wood, were requested to ascertain the probable expense of converting the northwest dwelling house into suitable apartments for the use of the Engineering course.

1875-1877                          College of Dental Surgery and Homeopathic Medical College

In 1875 the College of Dental Surgery and the Homeopathic Medical College were established. From 1875 until 1877 they shared the west Professor’s House on North University.

Dental Surgery and Homeopathic Medical College 1875-1877

1879                              Homeopathic Medical College and Homeopathic Hospital

In 1879 a Homeopathic Hospital was built onto the rear of the Homeopathic Medical College.

Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital

Psychology Department

In 1889 a new Homeopathic Hospital was built on Catherine Street. The building on North University was then used by the Department of Pathology for three years, thereafter, from 1903 to 1915, by the Department of Psychology. In 1915 the building was torn down and the site was used for the Natural Sciences Building.