In 1913 Hill Auditorium replaced science professor Alexander Winchell's 1858 brick octagon house. It was among several large homes on North University, one of four tree-lined boulevards surrounding the original campus. Harper's Weekly reported in 1880, "The enormous college piles that almost crowd each other on the forty-acre campus are mainly severely plain, but are all the more impressive in consequence. Facing them around the sides of the campus are many stone and brick fraternity houses, many frame dwellings, and a block or two of shops."
In the twentieth century, Winchell's entire neighborhood was replaced by the University's northward expansion of cultural facilities. Hill Auditorium, donated by Regent Arthur Hill and designed by Albert Kahn, culminated a two-decade effort by the private University Musical Society and UM regents to erect a large hall for musical events. The Frieze Memorial Organ was moved from University Hall to Hill's 4,200-seat auditorium with its renowned acoustics. Before the end of the century, the carillon of Burton Tower (1936) would ring over the women's Michigan League (1929), Rackham (1938), and Power Center for the Performing Arts (1971), buildings funded largely by private contributions. Gordon Mendelssohn gave the League's theater in honor of his mother, Lydia. The building, with its ballroom, dining room, and meeting rooms, was the result of years of fundraising events - plays, bazaars, flower shows, and rummage sales uniting women students and alumnae.