A Personal Connection to Landon Hall
This summer CAP has the opportunity to again look for the site of the Faculty Row buildings located where Landon Hall currently is as well as artifacts that might give us insights into early student life. Cowles House is the only building left of the Faculty Row buildings that ran along West Circle Drive from almost the beginning of MSU to the 1930s-40s. Landon Hall was built in 1947-1948 on the site of two of the Faculty Row buildings. As former Campus Archaeologist Terry Brock stated in an earlier CAP blog post from 2009: “Previous archaeological work done by CAP has investigated the sites of the other Faculty Row buildings, located where Landon and Campbell Hall are now located, but there were no intact archaeological deposits.” With the removal of asphalt and concrete behind Landon Hall this summer to renovate and enlarge Landon’s dining hall, CAP will again have a chance to investigate this area that has been so important to the development of Michigan State University.
The dorms that make up West Circle Dormitory complex are all name for women that have made important contributions to MSU. Landon Hall was named for Linda Eoline Landon the first female instructor and the first female librarian at MSU. According to the Board of Trustees minutes from 1891, Linda’s first salary as a librarian was for $500 a year. This was during the time that the library was in Linton Hall which was also the administration building. Linda oversaw the library from its time in Linton to when it was in the current MSU Museum. For 30 years Linda was also the person that put the ribbons on diplomas. She was beloved by her students which is shown in the 1912 yearbook which was dedicated to her for “tutoring thousands of students in the art of appreciating, loving, and valuing these true friends in life – books”.
Landon Hall has a particular personal interest to me as my mother Karen Moon Schaefer (known as a student by her maiden name Karen Moon) lived in Landon as a student from 1966 till her graduation in 1969. She served as Landon Hall’s President in 1969 and therefore sat on the Women’s Inter-residence Council which was made up of all of the presidents of the women’s residence halls.
Landon Hall has four floors and an “H” shape to it with the east wing smaller than the west wing and the middle hall extending slightly beyond both the west and east wings. In the center of the building on the ground floor is the cafeteria that is being expanded this summer. In the cafeteria there are terra cotta reliefs that where created by Professor Leonard Jungwirth who also created Sparty (Standford and Dewhurst 2002:67). Landon was a female only dorm but now is co-ed. My mother told me stories that during her time there if a boy was in the dorm on her floor the girls would yell out “Boy on the floor!” to the rest of the girls so the girls would know not to leave their rooms in robes, curlers or other states of undress that they wouldn’t want a boy to see.
My own personal connection to Landon Hall drove me to volunteer to investigate the history of Landon for CAPs when it was offered. What I found makes me hopeful that our investigation this summer will be successful. As well I am proud to be a student at a university that from its beginning has recognized the women that have been a cornerstone of its success.
Brock, Terry. September 9, 2009 Survey Spot: Cowles House. CAP Blog, http://campusarch.msu.edu/?p=158
Stanford, Linda and C. Kurt Dewhurst. 2002 MSU Campus: Buildings, Places, Spaces. The Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, MI