EMU Blog

Jun 26 2018

A Peek Into EMU’s History: Buildings on Campus

by blogemu

Eastern Michigan University is the second-oldest university in the state of Michigan. EMU’s oldest buildings show to the community the college’s century-long dedication to education.


The oldest building on campus, Starkweather Hall, was originally built in 1896 for the Michigan State Normal Schools Student Christian Association.

The unique building, which sort of looks like a stone cottage, has been the home of several Christian associations until the 1970’s when the organization disbanded. Some say that Mary Starkweather, the university’s benefactor, now haunts the building as a way to remind community members that she donated the building to the school.


Whether you believe in spirits or not, it is still a beautiful building with a fascinating history.


Another classic building on campus is Sherzer Hall. Sherzer Hall was originally built in 1901 as the school’s original science lab.

The historic brick building has since become home of the art department, but it still has the Sherzer Observatory, where astronomy students go to look at the stars and see other worlds.


A personal favorite of mine is King Hall, originally built in 1939 as the women’s residence hall. The building has many beautiful Art Deco elements such as carvings inspired by nature and technology, as well as a lounge which still has the original wood paneling.

While all of these architectural elements are wonderful, the real treasure is what’s inside: King Hall is currently home to WEMU 89.1, EMU’s NPR station, The Eastern Echo student newspaper, and the Early College Alliance, a program which gives local high school students a head start on college.


A little-known building on campus that many students seem to pass by is the Geddes Town Hall Schoolhouse. The Geddes Town Hall Schoolhouse, which is across the street from the Rec/IM, was originally built in 1895 in Pittsfield Township to serve the students of that area.

The schoolhouse has been in service until the 1950’s when more modern facilities replaced these historic pieces of Americana. The schoolhouse was relocated to EMU’s campus on July 7, 1987, and was officially dedicated in October 1988.


The building exists to remind the Eastern Michigan community of the school’s beginnings as a teacher’s college.


While EMU’s historic buildings are important to remember, the university’s more modern structures are also great places to go to on campus.


One of the most popular buildings on campus is the Student Center, built in 2006 to replace the older McKenny Union. The Student Center has the bookstore, restaurants, lounges to relax in, and even free movies on Friday in the auditorium.


The Student Center is where most of EMU’s campus life happens.


McKenny Hall hasn’t been the main hang-out place for EMU students since the Student Center opened in 2006; however, that may have changed since Chick-Fil-A opened one of their very few Michigan restaurants here in 2017.


This restaurant has made McKenny popular again with not only Eastern Michigan students but also with Ypsilanti residents too.


While not an official Eastern Michigan University building, the Ypsilanti Water Tower has become somewhat of a popular landmark with many students.

Originally built in 1890 by the city, its main function was to provide water effectively to the residents of Ypsilanti. Its unique style has since become part of the local culture, with residents and students alike using it as a major point of reference for all places in Ypsilanti.


Eastern Michigan University’s architectural gems are a testament to the university’s long history of providing quality education to those who desire it.

Gary Simmons is a senior from Muskegon, Michigan who is majoring in both Journalism/Media Studies and Urban Planning. When he isn’t out promoting EMU/Ypsilanti with the Go Social! Team, he is either writing articles for the Eastern Echo, working on TV programs with EMU’s student-ran ETV station, or is making people laugh with Laugh-a-Minute Enterprises.


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