The President’s House - 1852

Professors’ House

From 1841 to 1852 the University was governed by a faculty committee and the four Professors’ Houses were apportioned among the professors. In 1852 Henry Philip Tappan became the first President of the University. Henry Tappan and his family moved into the vacant southwest dwelling in 1852 and by his presence made it what it remains today – The President’s House. The Tappans lived in the house from 1852 to 1863. Gas lighting was installed in 1858.

Jasper Cropsey Painting of the University of Michigan 1855
The President’s House is second from the left

President’s House (right) facing the Diag


Henry & Julia Tappan

Henry Philip Tappan
Julia Livingston Tappan

Henry Philip Tappan was elected the first President of the University of Michigan. Tappan arrived in Ann Arbor in the summer of 1852 with his wife Julia, son John, and daughter Rebecca. A native of Rhinebeck, New York, a Dutch settlement, Tappan graduated from Union College in 1825, and from Auburn Theological Seminary in 1827. After a brief period as a minister, he became professor of philosophy at New York University in 1832. In a faculty-administration quarrel five years later, he was dismissed with several other professors. He published several works on philosophy and education, and lived abroad during this period.

Regent’s Proceedings, June 1854 p. 548

The house occupied by Chancellor Tappan has been placed in good repair.

Regents Proceedings, May 1856 p. 643

, 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, September 1857 p. 701

That a barn be constructed for the use of the President, at a cost not to exceed $300.

Regent’s Proceedings, December, 1859 p. 863

, That the Steward be and he is hereby instructed and required to cause the ash house upon the premises occupied by President Tappan to be repaired.

Regent’s Proceedings, September, 1861 p. 968

, That a sum not to exceed $800 be placed at the disposal of the Executive Committee to be expended by them if necessary in repairing the roofs and making other necessary repairs upon the four Professors’ Houses (so-called) upon the University Grounds. Adopted.

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.

The third floor was added sometime during the Tappan Presidency. When the Tappan’s left for Europe an auction was held and the Tappan’s possession were sold. An auction notice dated Tuesday, August 28, 1863, in the Bentley Library lists contents of the rooms on the third floor.

President’s House with the third floor

On June 23, 1863, Dr. Henry P. Tappan was removed from offices and duties of
President of the University of Michigan and Professor of Philosophy.

Erastus O. Haven was unanimously elected President of the University of Michigan

The Board of Regents had not been re-elected and this was their final act. The newly elected board would take office in January of 1864. There was a great deal of agitation from the citizens of the State and friends of the University to re-instate Tappan. Meanwhile the Havens returned to Ann Arbor and President Haven chaired the August Regent's meeting.

The Tappans left for Europe, and their household was auctioned on September 26, 1863. On the auction notice (a copy is in the Bentley Library), items on the third floor are listed. There is no mention in the Regent’s Proceedings of when the third floor was added. Thus, the auction notice is the only clue we have that the third floor was added sometime during Tappan’s tenure.

Regents Proceedings, September 30, 1863, p. 1067

Resolved, That the Executive Committee be directed to take possession of the residence on the southwest corner of the University Grounds and rent the same to the best advantage after placing it in proper repair.

Erastus & Mary Frances Haven

Erastus Otis Haven
Mary Frances Haven

Erastus Haven was a Professor of Latin Language and Literature at the University of Michigan from 1852 to 1856. A Methodist clergyman and Wesleyan graduate he was an academy principal in the East before coming to Michigan. Haven came back to a campus and community that was upset over the removal of President Tappan. He was nevertheless able to win the support of the University community.

Regent’s Proceedings, December 1863 p. 1109

Regent Baxter, from the Executive Committee, recommended that the rent of the house occupied by President Haven, be at the rate of $250.00 per annum, to be deducted from his salary quarterly, as it shall become due. The recommendation was adopted.

Regent’s Proceedings, January 1864 p. 11

On motion of Regent Johnson, the Executive Committee was instructed to examine into the report upon the expediency of making the repairs desired by the President on the house now occupied by him.

The Havens added a one-story kitchen to the President’s House one year after they moved in.   A faculty wife complained that the kitchen spoiled the lines of the house and certainly would allow unseemly odors to permeate the parlors.

President’s House with kitchen addition on the left

Regent’s Proceedings, March, 1864, p. 32

Resolved, That the Executive Committee be instructed to build a one story wing for a kitchen upon the building occupied by the President, at an expense not to exceed six hundred dollars.

Regent’s Proceedings, June 29, 1864 p. 46

, That the rent of the President’s House be remitted after the first of July next.

Regent’s Proceedings, June 30, 1864 p. 47

The President presented the account and vouchers for repairs on the house occupied by him.

On motion of Regent Gilbert, the sum of $238.96 was appropriated to pay the balance expended for said repairs, over and above the appropriation.

Regent’s Proceedings, September 1864 p. 52

For repairs to President’s House $838.96.


Haven resigned in 1869 to assume the presidency of Northwestern University.

The President’s House 1869-1871

Henry Simmons Frieze

Henry Frieze, a professor of Latin Language and Literature, served as President pro tempore while the Regents searched for a new President.  Frieze was asked to accept the presidency, but declined.  Henry Frieze did not live in the Presdent's House, preferring to emphasize the tempory nature of his position by remaining in his own home, the Professor's House next door.   

Professors’ House