815 South University Avenue
University of Michigan President's House, 1840
Creator: Lum, Haspier
This is one of the four houses constructed in 1839-40 on the new University of Michigan campus square as dwellings for its professors. Constructed by a local contractor, Haspier Lum, it was, like the other three, a two and one half story structure with a low pitched roof, a cupola, and a long, inviting porch facing the square. The interior, built in reserved classical style, had a central hall on each floor with two rooms opening off each side. The seven fireplaces which heated the rooms are still in place. At the back of the house were gardens, a small orchard and a stable.
The modest brick home, covered with stucco to resemble mortar courses, acquired its present appearance in the early 1960s when the upper half story became a full third story. The house took on an Italianate style, much in vogue at the time, with the addition of the truncated hipped roof, double brackets, and a balustrade replacing the original cupola. The artificial mortar courses were filled in. The four chimneys were unchanged from the original structure, and the front entrance of two Doric columns and entablature is believed to be the same. Indoor plumbing and a kitchen wing were a part of the renovation.
In 1891 a two-story west wing with a circular library and upstairs bedrooms was built, and the house was wired for electricity. In 1920 President Marion Leroy Burton replaced a small east porch with a sunroom and upstairs sleeping porch. During Alexander Ruthven's administration (1929-1951) a second story and rear study were added to the east wing. A glassed-in plant room dates from that time as well.
The President's House is the only building remaining of the original four houses and two dormitory-classroom structures and is the oldest building on the University campus.