You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Michigan Memories: University of Michigan student housing a century ago

By Kellie Woodhouse

This week 560 University of Michigan students moved into Alice Lloyd Hall, replete with 45 different types of chairs, several flat screen televisions, state-of-the-art community and meeting rooms and furnishings that four-star hotels would envy.

The price tag of Alice Lloyd's yearlong renovation, which finished this summer, was $56 million.

This year, 860-bed East Quadrangle is following in Alice Lloyd's footsteps with a $116 million renovation that will finish during summer 2013.

But what did college dormitories look like nearly 100 years ago? takes a look at U-M dormitories built between 1914 and 1967 to see how Wolverines of the past lived while on campus.


U-M Bentley Historical Library

Pictured above in 1919, five years after it opened, the Martha Cook building is one of the oldest U-M dormitories. The building was designed by the same firm that designed the the Law Quadrangle in the 1920s. The gothic-style dorm cost $260,000 to build and is one of three all-female residence halls remaining on campus, according to U-M archives.


U-M Bentley Historical Library

A living room in Betsy Barbour Hall is pictured above after the residence hall was built in 1920 at a cost of $168,000 for the building and $42,000 for the furnishings, according to archives. Construction of the all-female dormitory took nine years to complete. Former regent Levi L. Barbour donated $100,000 toward the hall, which housed roughly 80 students, archives state.


U-M Bentley Historical Library

A sunroom in Betsy Barbour hall, pictured here sometime between 1920 and 1947. The 120-bed residence hall remains open to females only.


U-M Bentley Historical Library

The dining hall in Betsy Barbour, pictured here sometime between 1920 and 1947.

Screen Shot 2012-08-31 at 4.40.42 PM.png

U-M Bentley Historical Library

U-M Bentley Historical Library

In this photo (exact date unknown) South Quadrangle, which opened in 1951, is under construction. South Quad has a capacity to house 1180 residents and is one of U-M's largest residence halls.

Screen Shot 2012-08-31 at 4.46.16 PM.png

U-M Bentley Historical Library

U-M Bentley Historical Library

Vera Baits II is pictured here shortly after it was built in 1967. Its sister dorm, Baits I, was closed last year after it was condemned as unfit by university housing. The 570-bed Baits II is located on North Campus. Baits II received a $12 million renovation this summer.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Linda Peck

Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

I enjoyed seeing these pictures. It is interesting that Baits has been condemned already and was built 55 years ago in 1967. The old quality of construction must have been forgotten by then. I do like the older buildings best and always did. I was fortunate to live in Jordan Hall in 1961.


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 3:11 a.m.

You should do a student Co-op story next.


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

These are cool photos, but I, too, would like to see photos of the actual dorm rooms from back then. Do any exist?

Kellie Woodhouse

Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 11:07 p.m.

Here's a Michigan Memories from earlier this year looking at dorm rooms. Thanks for reading, thann.


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

I lived at Baits I, then moved to Martha Cook, then to Cambridge house, which is attached to the Michigan Union. I enjoyed all my dorms in the 90s.


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

Wow. Those were the days my friend. You don't see stuff like that anymore. Great shots.


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

Good to see that the oldest dorms on the U of M campus are still in existence and nearly completely renovated. South Quad was the newbie in the Central Campus area, unless you count Merry Markley near the hospital part of campus and then the opening of North Quad. Other's like U-Towers were the first of their kind until this wave a ultra modern high rise complexes are coming on line. Good stuff.


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

Doesn't the U-M Bentley Historical Library have any photos of actual dorm rooms from back then? I'd find those far more interesting than the shots of common areas above.

Kellie Woodhouse

Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 11:06 p.m.

Here's a Michigan Memories from earlier this year looking at student rooms. Thanks for reading.


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

Even earlier days at UM. "In the earliest days the term fees of $7.50 covered the cost of rooms in the dormitories, while the cost of board ranged from $1.50 to $2.00 a week. H.B. Nichols, a student in 1850, gave his father the following,— account of monies, by me expended. In it I put an estimate of the term tax at $6.00. It is $6.62-1/2 and divided as follows, viz: Room rent, $1.50. Janitor's fees, $1.50. Wood bill $2.87-1/2 and Hall tax for damages to the Buildings, viz. Brokens doors and windows, $.75, making in all the sum of $6.62-1/2. Last term $4.60. So you see it is all a humbug for the catalogue to say the charges will range from $5.00 to $7.50 per year, as it will not be less than $15.00 to each student, or $30.00 to each room and if a student rooms alone his charges will be $21.00 per year! As for his boarding place: I changed or rather left Mrs. Andrews and went ... to Professor Ten Brook's. I like it so well at the Prof's that I have remained there since." - Wilfred Shaw, The University of Michigan, 1920 The President's residence was once one of four like mansions for professors arranged symetrically on campus, which is where student HB Nichols moved in.


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

Great info.


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

U of M was really slow in the movement to provide its students with Dorms. It preferred to let them live in the town. The Towns people thought when they started building dorms that it would ruin the local economy. Things have come 180 degrees


Sun, Sep 2, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.

There are space limitations. UM is very compact geography wise whereas MSU is really spread out. Would not surprise me that has something to do with it. Also by knowing how many students they admit and how many desire to stay in dorms instead of moving out as they progress, that gives them some idea of what is necessary. I think it is quite generous of the numerous renovations. I don't think they really needed to do all they are doing.


Sat, Sep 1, 2012 : 11:14 a.m.

Betsy Barbour Hall took nine years to complete. Makes the parking garage seem a non-issue... :) These articles would be more interesting if the dollars were all stated in current dollars too.