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City dedicates plaques, honors campus history
By Adil Hussain
For the Daily
A consortium of local history buffs, townspeo-
ple and University scholars are working together
to create historic street exhibits around the Uni-
versity campus and downtown Ann Arbor.
Known as the Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit
Program, the permanent, fiberglass street exhibits
depict scenes and architecture of the local area
from a by-gone era.
One of the most recent exhibits installed is a
glass plaque and a black-and-white lithograph of
the campus in 1907, next to the Michigan Union.
The exhibit may be of special interest to students
because it depicts a college grounds that contrasts
with architecture from the present day campus.
"Many of our Victorian-era buildings used a
wooden construction on the inside; if they didn't
burst into flames on their own, they were torn
down because they were seen as fire-hazards,"
former University President John Duderstadt said.
"There were movements to try to save major
buildings, such as University Hall, but in the
end they proved ineffectual," said Anne Duder-
stadt, wife of the former president and author of
"The President's House at the University of
"It was significantly cheaper to tear down an old building
than to try to reconstruct and preserve an old one."
- Anne Duderstadt
Author, "The President's House at the University of Michigan"
Michigan", which chronicles University
history. "It was significantly cheaper to tear
down an old building than to try to reconstruct
and preserve an old one."
The Duderstadts say it is difficult to stifle the
feeling of loss for the diminished grandeur of the
University when viewing the street exhibit, espe-
cially when confronted with now-demolished
architectural structures like University Hall, a
predecessor of Angell Hall; or the Old Medical
School building, a pillared Greek-revival struc-
ture, and the General Library, with its elegant stat-
ue-dominated reading room. As the exhibit
recounts, only five of the original structures
shown on the 1907 lithograph are left standing.
Buildings were demolished primarily because
of poor configuration due to excessive renovation
as they had become too dilapidated or as they
were outgrown, according to Director of Plant
Extensions Paul Spradlin, who has been the over-
seer of all campus construction and renovation
over the last fifty years.
"Structures were torn down for a few main rea-
sons. The original buildings were renovated and
added onto so much because of the constant need
for additional classroom and laboratory space that
they reached a point where their layout and design
became almost haphazard and it was impractical
to renovate more."
Spradlin added that, "even though the outside
facades of brick or masonry looked good, on the
inside these buildings were minimally constructed
and they began to be very old and decrepit. Many
times the departments that these buildings housed
grew so much that the geographical location of
their buildings become somehow inadequate or
Spradlin recognized that these considerations
largely ignore the structures' aesthetic and histori-
cal value. "People didn't worry about history.
Only in the last fifty to seven-
ty years have we become
more conscious about the his-
torical value of campus archi-
tecture," Spradlin said.
Some may question how
other campuses maintained
their historical structures
while some of the Universi-
ty's were smashed with the
wrecking ball. The campus
had little land -- it had
become enveloped in a live-
ly and historical town in its
own right -- there was
nowhere else to expand and
the administration had to
build facilities for a bur-
geoning student body that
the old buildings simply
could not accommodate.
Financial constraints also limited the Universi-
ty. "State budgeting in the (19)50s-'70s simply
did not allow for structures beyond the simple
roofed cube, like the Modern Languages Build-
ing," Spradlin said.
Spradlin is quick to point out that the changes
in campus scenery in the last hundred years have
maintained some buildings of historical merit.
One merely has to visit the Cook Law Quadran-
gle, which he said is easily the most ambitious
and sublime of all Michigan architecture ever
built. A less obvious example is the Ingalls Mall
- the gardens and fountain between the flagpole
north of the Diag and the Rackham building
replaced a giant parking lot only twenty years
ago. Until just eight years ago, the UGLi used to
have a checkered blue plastic facade like the
A picture of Universty Hall before 1898 depicts people relaxing on the lawn. The building, which was near Angell Hall,
was demolished In 1950.
In last week's Daily, it should
have been reported that Ward Con-
nerly is a regent of the University
of California, as regents are
appointed at-large and do not rep-
resent specific campuses.
Also, it should have been men-
tioned that a voter initiative on out-
lawing racial preferences will only
be placed on the ballot if Connerly
is successful in gathering enough
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