Romance Languages Building

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Overcrowded conditions in the museum display areas of University Hall prompted the Regents to approve the construction of a new University Museum Building in July, 1879. Built according to plans submitted by Major William Le Baron Jenney, construction took place during 1880-1881. The resulting structure was of brick, with stone trim, and consisted of four floors containing 22,234 square feet of space. The final cost of the project was $46,041.52 and it served as the home of the University's natural history and anthropological collections for almost half a century.

The sum granted by the Regents was not enough to construct the building as originally planned, so a compromise was effected which limited the number of lecture rooms in the building. Other defects in its original construction became apparant through the years, not the least of which was the settling of the ground floor due to the building's lack of a basement. In 1894, motivated by fear that the original roof was too heavy, a new roof was put on the building. Storage space shortages continued to worsen, so that by 1923 more than 75% of the University's specimen collection was kept in storage space outside of the building and important new collections were being turned away because of lack of a place to house them.

After the construction of a new Museums Building in 1928, the old Museum Building, valuable because of its central location, was subjected to a $20,000.00 interior renovation and became home to the Romance Languages Department. It continued to serve in that capacity until it was demolished in ?.

Source: The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey; Walter A. Donnelly, Wilfred B. Shaw, and Ruth W. Gjelsness, editors; Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, 1958.