The Ritual Landscape of Michigan State University

Last week I attended the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting, held this year in Washington D.C. This was a particularly pertinent meeting for Campus Archaeology because a symposium was held in honor of Dr. Lynne Goldstein. As she nears retirement and the end of her tenure as professor and CAP Director, it was evident from the symposium that her influence on the field of archaeology is far from over. The impact of her mentorship to students and the collaboration with colleagues was felt throughout every paper.

One theme that prevailed throughout the symposium was landscape and the ritual use of space. Dr. Goldstein has written extensively about mortuary patterns (how, where, and why people bury their dead) and regional analysis to evaluate patterns of settlement and ritual land use. Papers from MSU’s own Dr. William Lovis and Dr. Jodie O’Gorman, in addition to former Campus Archaeology fellow Dr. Amy Michael, all paid tribute to Dr. Goldstein’s legacy by considering their own research from this spatial perspective.

This got me thinking: what is the ritual landscape of Michigan State University, both past and present? And how might we see this archaeologically?

Dr. O’Gorman discussed how migrating populations may maintain certain rituals from their place of origin, while also engaging in new rituals in order to integrate both into the social and natural environment of their new homes. This is reflected in the environment of a college campus. Students come to MSU from across Michigan, the US, and abroad bringing their own rituals and personal items with them. However, once students arrive on campus, they form and engage in a united identity: that of an MSU student. This identity can then be enacted through rituals that are often closely tied to specific locations across the campus landscape.

Football Revelry ca. 1910

Football Revelry ca. 1910. Image Source

MSU tail gaiting today. Image source.

MSU tail gaiting today. Image source.

Sports comprise an important part aspect of MSU identity. Football games and tailgating are important rituals at MSU. While football itself might not leave behind the much in the way of archaeological remains (besides a giant stadium), tailgating certainly might. Archaeologists often find refuse pits with large amounts of food refuse and broken pottery, the remnants of ancient feasting events, or large meals accompanying special occasions or ceremonies. Many ancient societies held community-wide events that left significant archaeological signatures, such a large amounts of broken pottery and food refuse. Today, the area around the tennis courts on the MSU campus are the hub of student tailgating, a form of feasting, and will likely someday be a treasure trove of interesting finds (at least those items missed by MSU’s otherwise stellar clean-up crews). If tailgating or other sport-related revelries were historically held elsewhere on campus, we may find evidences of these activities during our campus surveys.

Sacred Space during the early days of the campus

Sacred Space during the early days of the campus. Image source

Sacred Space today

Sacred Space today. Image source

The “Sacred Space” is the large open area north of Beaumont Tower, which is the unofficial “center” of campus.  New construction has been banned in this area since the 1870s. Although students certainly use this space, and in the future we may find refuse of their presence there, we would not expect to find much in the way of trash pits or construction refuse dating to after fits establishment (although the pre-1870s archaeology of this area is quite rich). This is common of many ancient city center plazas, where city-wide ceremonies were held. Sometimes the absence of structures or other archaeological evidence is the strongest indicator of ceremonial space as they are kept clean and clear of structures to allow room for ceremonies and their participants.

Sparty Statue - Image Source

Sparty Statue – Image Source

Graduation is arguably the most significant ritual enacted on a college campus. Graduates routinely get their pictures taken next to the Sparty statue on north campus, and may even hold more significance in this milestone than the location of the actual graduation ceremony. Sparty is what archaeologists call a “monument,” or large, immovable objects that visually mark space with significance and meaning. Monuments are common in the ancient world, from the burial mounds of the Midwest, to the obelisks and temples of ancient Egypt and Greece.

The Rock.

The Rock. Image Source

The Rock, a more informal monument on campus, is a large boulder which various student groups take turns painting, either promoting their student group or serving as a way to express solidarity, protest, and/or discontent with current events. It is so much a symbol an important symbol of MSU heritatage that someone wrote a whole book on it! Students sometimes camp out to ensure their chance for painting the rock, so we may one day be able to see this refuse archaeologically. A few years ago, a chunk of the hundreds of layers of paint fell off, revealing an enthralling stratigraphy representing decades of student voices and creativity. One artist made “Spartan Agate” jewelry from it, allowing alum to wear a piece of MSU archaeological history around their necks.

 Mary Mayo Hall, a stop on the Apparitions and Archaeology Tour, is said to be haunted

Mary Mayo Hall, a stop on the Apparitions and Archaeology Tour, is said to be haunted. Image source

CAP’s yearly Apparitions and Archaeology Tour is inspired by ghost stories associated with various buildings and features across the campus. These spectral legends are closely tied to landmarks on the landscape but leave no archaeological trace. These represent aspects of the past that archaeologists want to know but struggle to uncover: myths and legends. Reflective of a culture’s ideology, oral histories and myths often prove elusive to archaeologists unless recorded in the written records. Even in the age of print and social media, these ghost stories might have simply been passed down from generation to generation of students without official recordation, eventually forgotten, had they not been recorded by CAP for our famous tour.

One way oral history and archaeology can converge is through public outreach. So, I turn the rest of this blog over to you, dear readers! If you are a current or former student, faculty, or staff member, what are the places on campus that are most special to you? Are there areas of ritual or ceremonial significance that you know of (used by a specific student group, etc) from the past or present that Campus Archaeology should know about or document? Share your stories in the comments!

Summer Archaeology Update

The last two weeks began our first official start to summer survey and excavation.  We have lots of projects this summer to juggle, so we will be bouncing around campus trying to get to them all. Here are some updates from the work we did last week and a couple announcements about where we will be this week.

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Bethany and Josh doing some survey at Jenison Field House last week

Two Weeks Ago: Jenison Field House

During this first week of summer survey we did shovel testing in the green areas to the north and west of Jenison field house. We also did a quick walking survey along the river to check for artifacts.

Last Week: Training for New Peoples, Jenison Field House, Adams Field Sidewalks and Training for FRIB

Our week began with a training day for all the new workers, other then myself we have a completely new team from the one we had last year. Our new team includes two undergraduate students, a graduate student and alumni of the Anthropology department. We did a historic tour of campus and visited each of the construction sites we will be working on this summer. Following this, we discussed the summer and went other the proper methods for doing Campus Archaeology summer work.

The work began at Jenison Field House. They are replacing the parking lot and sidewalks here, but we only need to survey the latter. In preparation for this we did some survey around the area, checking out the green space between the sidewalks. We didn’t find anything exciting but we did get interviewed by Channel 10 news!

Bethany and Katie shovel testing at Adams Field

Bethany and Katie shovel testing at Adams Field

Our next day of work we were out at Adams Field checking out the sidewalks between the Music Building and Cowles House. They are currently replacing the sidewalks in this area with new ‘green’ sidewalks that are made of recycled MSU glass. You can learn more about this cool initiative here: “Even the concrete is green”. Again, we didn’t find too much although there were some nice square cut nails and a portion of an industrial clay pipe.

Our week ended with us doing a safety training with FRIB (Facility for Rare Isotope Beam). As you can tell driving down Wilson by Bogue, they are working hard to move forward on constructing their new buildings. We will be working with them on a number of projects, but right now we are monitoring their progress on creating the power source for the buildings. It is an exciting project to be a part of, and we are looking forward to it.

This Upcoming Week: Jenison Field House and MSU Museum Sidewalks

This week we have two projects we will be jumping between. The first is the Jenison parking lot where we will be starting to survey underneath the sidewalks. We will be beginning this project today around 12pm and will be out there for the afternoon. Then tomorrow and the next day we will be in the Sacred Space area to the North of the MSU Museum working on sidewalks and potentially checking out some green space if we have time.

As always, feel free to come out and visit us, and follow our progress on twitter @capmsu! Just look for the green flag!

What Happened to the Brook?

Carefully look at this map of MSU’s campus from the 1880’s.

1880’s Map of MSU, via MSU Archives and Historical Records

There is a dark black line running from East Grand River Road into the Sacred Space, and then it turns into a squiggly line that goes all the way into the Red Cedar River. That was once the brook that ran through the middle of campus. The dark line is a drainage system that was meant to aid in draining the swamps north of East Grand River Road. The little brook was important to keeping the swamp areas from flooding and also helped direct wastes into the Red Cedar River. Of course, today there is no brook running through the Sacred Space. So what happened to it? This is the question I’ve been trying to answer the past week. Thanks to Whitney from the MSU Archives and Historical Records I have a couple answers.

Bridge from Chemical Lab to Botany, 1884, via MSU Archives and Historical Records

Other than the brook being present on maps, it is mentioned in a few historical documents that help us determine where it was located and what happened. In Beal’s (1915) history of the Michigan Agricultural College, he notes that in 1877 they botanic gardens were created, and were located in a ravine northwest of the greenhouses (located once at the SW edge of the Library) and north of the Red Cedar on the banks of a brook. From the Michigan Board of Agriculture Report 1880, Beal reports that there was a footbridge that crossed this ravine from the Chemical Lab (which was located where the fountain in front of the Library currently is) to the Botany Lab (which was located just east of IM West). It was a fairly large bridge, 16 feet wide with five piers supporting it. Pictures of the bridge show that it was primarily meant for the ravine since the brook is barely visible. In 1884, when Abbot Hall was constructed (now the location of the Music Practice Building), it was determined that this bridge wasn’t sturdy enough. The soil removed from the basement of Abbot Hall was used to fill in the ravine where the bridge was, and the brook was directed through via cement drains. So now we know when the ravine was filled in by the roadways, but not when the brook vanished.

Small Bridge in the Botanical Gardens over a Brook, via MSU Archives and Historical Records

We know from both Beal (1915) and Darlington (1929) that the brook and river would often flood the gardens. From 1904 to 1910, Beal raised the level of the garden from four to five feet to prevent the high waters from destroying the garden. Beal (1915:254) wrote “Most perplexing of all, was the habit of the Cedar river in overflowing its banks and covering most of the garden with water, for three to seven days at a time and if this freshet occurred during the growing season, two or three hundred attractive plants are killed outright. To overcome this difficulty a section at a time during six years was raised from one foot to five feet or more.” Due to these alterations, “the brook now flows under ground through a cement tunnel for nearly four hundred feet” (Beal 1915:254). So we now know that the brook that once ran through the garden was still there, but was underground.

There are reports beginning in 1874 and 1890 that sewage from North campus often flowed through this ravine into the river. As the brook became more placed in culverts and drain pipes it further became used for sewage. In 1927, East Lansing determined that a proper sewer system needed to run through campus to prevent pollution. Alumni were up in arms according to various newspaper clippings since the sewer plan involved destruction of a portion of the Beal Gardens. A compromise was made, and it was decided that the new sewer system would run through the pipes of the old brook. By 1929, this plan was enacted, and the brook is no longer evident on campus maps or garden maps. According to Forsyth however, there are drain covers still evident in the gardens, and during periods snow melting the brook can be seen in that a green strip through the garden above the drain will melt first.

In the upcoming summer, construction will begin of West Circle Drive along the area that once was the ravine and bridge. During this, we hope we will be able to document this exactly what happened to the brook by examining the soil stratigraphy of this area!

Works Cited

Beal, WJ. 1915 History of the Michigan Agricultural College. MSU Archives UA 943. LD 3245.M28 B4

Darlington, HT. 1929 Letter to President Shaw Regarding the Beal Gardens. MSU Archives Beal Botanical Gardens 1925-1932. F 17. B 37. C UA 2.1.12

Thank you to MSU Archives for all their help!


Under the Sidewalks of the Sacred Space

If you’ve been following our twitter feed or facebook, you know that we are hard at work surveying beneath the sidewalks around Linton Hall and Beaumont Tower. As part of the campus construction, a majority of the sidewalks within the sacred space are being renovated. Sidewalk replacement involves removal of the old walk, flattening the ground, laying down sand, and then covering the area with fresh cement. This process is fairly quick, and most walks are removed and replaced in an afternoon. However, the sacred space is an important area for MSU’s history. By digging beneath the sidewalks as they are removed we are able to get a glimpse at sections of the sacred space that we haven’t been able to access. These sections are also protected by the sidewalks and are therefore more likely to contain preserved artifacts.

With a team of grad students we began working two weeks ago, and have been fairly busy since then following the demolition crews. So what has been underneath the sidewalks you tread across everyday? Here are some of our finds from these surveys.

Beaumont Northwest Sidewalk Survey: Salt Glazed Stoneware

Ceramics are one of the primary types of objects we find on campus, although usually it is more delicate plain whiteware. This piece of pottery is stoneware. Stoneware is thicker than whiteware and non-porous, which means it is impervious to liquid even without a glaze. This particular piece has a grey glazed exterior, light yellow-white paste, and a brown salt glazed interior. You can see that it has an ‘orange peel’ like interior, which is indicative of the salt glazing process. This glaze is important because it makes the interior even more sealed against liquids and perfect for domestic kitchen use.

Left to Right: Salt Glazed Stoneware, Square Cut Nail, Rusted Square Cut Nail

Beaumont North Sidewalk Survey: Square Cut Nails

When we find metal from the 19th century it is usually so rusted that it makes identification of what it exactly is very difficult. Nails look like reddish brown tree stems (and can be easily confused with them) instead of the smooth grey metal they actually are. While digging to the northwest of Beaumont Tower we found two surprisingly clean square cut nails. This style of nail was used from the 1820’s to 1910’s. Their great preservation makes them an invaluable resource as we can use them to train students in identification. (To learn more about styles of nails we fin on campus you can read a previous blog post on the subject)

Linton Hall South Sidewalk Survey: Glazed Brick

Unit 214 under Linton Hall Sidewalk

Throughout campus we find bricks. They were collected from the demolished historic buildings and used to modify the landscape. We find them primarily around the river banks where they would have been dumped to prevent flooding. During this section of the survey we found dozens of bricks. Since we have found hundreds of these, we don’t usually keep them. We do however keep bricks that have been painted or glazed. We found a number of bricks with a grey glazed exterior. During the firing process, this paint was added. This makes the brick impervious to weather and reduces deterioration. Our bricks appear to have primarily a grey salt glaze to them.

Survey North of Beaumont

Over the next three days, Campus Archaeology is going to be doing an archaeological survey of the soil underneath the sidewalks North of Beaumont Tower. As part of the constant campus construction, they are going to be replacing sections of the sidewalks within the Sacred Space throughout the Fall. The cement is removed, and the ground underneath is left untouched for a number of days to allow Campus Archaeology to conduct a survey. Last week we shovel tested under the walks between Linton Hall and the MSU Museum. This week we will be testing the walks North of Beaumont Tower, and in a few weeks we will be just East of the MSU Museum. As said in a post last week, looking under the sidewalks is important because the cement protects anything that is underneath it from being disturbed. This means we have a higher chance of finding something historic, or even prehistoric!

This area in particular is important because it is the front yard of College Hall. We had previously found part of the foundation of College Hall when the sidewalks directly around Beaumont Tower were removed. The area we are working in won’t have any new campus buildings, but we may find a trash site or some of the original sidewalks. It is also quite close to the area where we found the prehistoric site during our 2011 field school.

Come out and say hi!

Solving Puzzles on MSU’s Sacred Space

As archaeologists, we often appear as curious creatures to those individuals who are unfamiliar with our work. Unlike most professions whose employees call a cubicle their home base, archaeologists spend their days out in the field digging holes or trenches, but only when our heads aren’t buried in books or in front of a computer; however, one never sees that glamorous part of the job. Anyway, when we are out in the field we are often seen with a shovel in hand and a screen by our side, slaving away either digging holes (STPs or shovel test pits) or actual test units. As visitors come by to observe our activities, we are often asked various questions. Among the common “Finding any gold?” , “Are there dinosaurs down there?”, or simply “What are you doing?”, we often get asked, “Well, how do you know where to dig…?”.  Well to be honest, we kind of don’t. Although we wish we all had X-ray vision to see what’s under the ground, that technology or genetic manipulation has not yet been created. I also wish I could tell you all that we are just THAT smart where we know exactly where everything is…

So how do we know where to dig when in the field? Archaeology is a big puzzle. We study maps, photographs, and other historical records as a way to gain a better understanding of the landscape on which we are working. Often times when determining where to excavate, we dig in a sweep of STPs, or shovel test pits, in an area that is known to have some sort of historical past or in an area that will be altered by construction (which is the case this summer on MSU’s campus). These 1ft wide by 3ft deep holes are meant to give us a glimpse into what is beneath the surface. Based on the artifacts recovered, the stratigraphy (different layers of soil or cultural material within the walls of the STP), and the consistency between the overall make up of these STPs, we are able to determine if there is the possibility of finding a larger site.

Eve hard at work in the trenches

In the last two weeks, we have transformed the area of two separate STPs into their own excavation units. In the first area, just north of Linton Hall, we found a series of STPs containing a lot of historic construction material (bricks, nails, window glass), a layer of brick and clinkers (burnt coal) in the stratigraphy, and artifacts such as animal bone and even a penny! The unique make up of these STPs encouraged us to open a larger 2m x 2m excavation unit in the middle of the holes in order to better understand what is going on in that region. Most recently, we have been working on a unit south of Morrill Hall. While digging underneath where there used to be a sidewalk, we had a series of STPs yield a great number of bricks. This mass amount of bricks could mean one of two things: this area was filled up with this material as a way to even out the ground, or it is the foundation of a historic building. However, the only way to actually see what is going on is to open the STP into a larger unit.

So…now you know the answer to the infamous question of “How do you know where to dig?”. We dig holes in regions we think are important and see what story they have to tell us. As archaeologists, we don’t have special powers but we sure do know how to read and solve a puzzle!

The summer “A Team” and some tantalizing beginnings

Excavating a shovel test pit

Excavating a shovel test pit

Campus Archaeology, like Santa Claus and your 4-year-old, never sleeps. Nor does work take a summer vacation, even when Campus Archaeologist Katy Meyers and Program Director Lynne Goldstein leave the country to pursue other research (you can read about Katy here).
In these trying times, a crack team of archaeologists are called in to pool their considerable collective experience: excavation experience from four different continents, 23 seasons of combined field research in historic and prehistoric periods, and seemingly endless hours of laboratory analysis are their core credentials.

Continuing to excavate

Continuing to excavate

It’s a good thing they’re here, too. The summer is construction season. For Campus Archaeology this means a long list of opportunities to look beneath the surface of MSU’s lovely green space, manicured grounds, and physical infrastructure to learn how, how much, and where campus has changed. Our favorite place to study this? Right in the middle of the dizzying construction labyrinth on North campus, in the Sacred Space. This week we’ve been investigating the space between Linton Hall and the Union. “Investigations” have included poring over campus maps and speaking with construction crews, shovel test pits (“STPs“) at regular intervals and even a 2m x 2m test excavation. The excavations are on temporary hiatus while we follow newly-removed walkways, so tune in next week to learn more about the cinder-laid walkways – repurposing MSU’s coal byproducts – that preceded today’s cement versions. And below those? Our STP survey of that area leads us to suspect there may be an ancient trash pit, predating the cinder walking paths.
Towards the end of the week we stumbled across the perfect justification for the STP survey : after 9 “sterile” (no archaeological material found) test pits, we suddenly started finding dense layers of broken and complete bricks and square nails (pre-1880s) across several adjacent test pits.



Brick rubble at the bottom of a test pit

Brick rubble at the bottom of a test pit

So what’s going on? Is this fill from an ancient “low spot” that, long ago, MSU tried to even out so that foot traffic on the center of campus was made easier? Or is it something more complicated? Tune in next week, when we’ll be opening a test unit in the middle of it all….

CAP Survey: Sacred Space

On April 12th to 13th, Campus Archaeology is going to be doing an archaeological survey within the Sacred Space. We will be digging East of Cowles House and the Music Practice building, and West of Beaumont Tower. As many of you know, there is extensive work going on as part of the West Circle Steam Tunnel reconstruction project. This includes re-doing a large portion of the roads and digging up parts of the green space within the road. One part of this project calls for construction of an access road from the Southern portion of West Circle Drive up to the road to Cowles House. We are going to be surveying this area to make sure that this temporary road won’t disturb any archaeological material. We will be excavating today from 1 to 4pm and possibly tomorrow also if the survey isn’t completed. Come say hi and visit us!

The Sacred Space

In a lot of our blog posts we refer to an area known as the “Sacred Space” on campus. The earliest goals for campus construction in the 19th century aimed at creating an open and natural environment, where students and faculty could easily walk between buildings that were divided by open lawns and groups of trees. Therefore, an area known as the oak opening was left natural in the middle of the buildings. In 1982, President Clute argued against the construction of Old Botany within the open space. Kuhn notes “when the first load of brick was delivered… President Clute looked out from his office window in [Linton Hall] at this sudden invasion of the sacred circle. He then ordered that the brick be moved to the site where the building we now know as Old Botany was erected” (Stanford and Dewhurst 2002:13). The space was first given its ‘sacred’ designation in 1906, O. C. Simonds, a well-known prairie school landscape architect, was creating the plans for the construction of West Circle road.

Simonds wrote “I should regard all the ground included in this area, marked… as a sacred space from which all buildings must be forever excluded. This area contains beautifully rolling land, with a pleasing arrangement of trees, many of which have developed into fine specimens. This area is, I am sure, that feature of the College which is most pleasantly and affectionately remembered by the students after they leave their Alma Mater, and I doubt if any instruction given has a greater effect upon their lives”. It was at this point that construction was forbidden in this space.

In 1915, the space was further defined by the work of the Olmstead brothers, a professional heritage group. They recommended the expansion of the sacred space and its continued protection. The space was expanded to include more area to the east and south, including all of the the extant buildings. They argued to keep the oblong shape and winding paths in order to prevent the more quadrangular and linear shapes of open spaces found on urban campuses (Stanford and Dewhurst 2002:17). In 1930, the space was simplified in order to create a more open feeling. The drive that ran from Music Practice Hall to Cowles House was removed. This plan also included the expansion of the space to the area to include the area north and south of the Red Cedar River.

Stanford and Dewhurst (2002:32) argue that “The responsibility for the future is to prove that a campus such as Michigan State can continue to be a place to study, work, reflect and join together in an inviting natural and built environment. A campus should be an enduring example of how we live on the land and the relationship, in microcosm, of society to nature”. The campus is a public resource for students and faculty. The way that Michigan State has been constructed was done with foresight to protect the open land and natural resources.

The sacred space, however, is more than just a natural resource. It is a historical resource. When the space was expanded to include the extant buildings in 1915, it protected the original campus buildings from destruction. Both Saints Rest and College Hall, the first two buildings on campus, can still be found underneath the ground in this area. Had construction been allowed to occur, it is highly likely we would have lost the foundations and artifacts, therefore losing a major part of our history. At Campus Archaeology, we continue the mission of these early campus architects and protect the space from damage or construction. This summer there is going to be extensive construction and demolition around the sacred space (some of which has already begun across from the Union). Campus Archaeology will be carefully watching the space and conducting a number of surveys to protect the historical heritage of Michigan State.

Works Cited

Stanford, L and Dewhurst, C. 2002 MSU Campus: Buildings, Places and Spaces. Michigan State University Press.

MSU Campus Master Plan. History of Campus Development:

Intern Update: Evolution of the MSU Landscape

Arial photo of MSU

Arial photo of MSU

This is a Campus Archaeology Intern Update by Eve

In 1855, the Michigan Legislature decided to purchase 676 acres of marshy, woodsy, swampy land. These 676 acres would later evolve into what we know today as the beautiful campus of Michigan State University.

When the college opened its doors on May 13, 1857 the campus consisted of three faculty houses, a little cabin, College Hall, and a barn. As years went on the campus expanded; new buildings were built, the land was used for different purposes, and the number of students grew exponentially.

So why is all of this important?? If I were to ask you where the center of campus is located, what would you say?
The answers I have received thus far are very interesting. Some say Shaw Hall, others Spartan Stadium, others say the center of campus is at Beaumont Tower. As you can see, these are all extremely different places. So why do people look at the center of campus as being in such different places?

This semester, my research will be focused on exploring the center of campus, both as a literal center and where people perceive the center to be and asking myself why this is the case. I will be looking at changes that occurred in the four phases of MSU set forth by the Campus Archaeology Program. When looking at the literal center of campus I am first asking myself, “where is it?”. Should be an obvious question to ask right? Thus far in my research however, I have yet to find a source that provides me with this information. I’m then looking at how construction has affected its location and why the campus expanded in the way it did. When researching people’s perception of the center of campus I’m asking my self questions such as “where is it generally located?”, “has it changed and if so when?”, “do landmarks have an influence on the location of the center of campus?”, and “why do people view a certain area as the center?”. I am also interested in looking at how archaeological contexts can be used to observe trends in use of space and identify historically where campus center is located. This research becomes important because it helps us understand how the university has evolved and how students view the change in landscape over time.

Historic photo of main campus

Historic photo of main campus

So far I have been focusing on the first fifty years of MSU (aka the first “phase” set by forth by CAP). This phase, from 1855-1875, marks the beginning stages of the university. At this time the buildings were concentrated in one area and the boundaries of the campus were the “Lansing-Detroit Plank Road” to the north, the farmlands to the east, the Red Cedar River to the south, and the forests to the west. The buildings that were built reflected the student life at the time. There were dormitories for men only (seeing that Morrill Hall, built for women, was not constructed until 1900), laboratories for students to learn in, barns for the animals that grazed the fields, houses for the faculty, and College Hall which served as the chapel and classrooms among other functions. The buildings were all along what we know today as West Circle Drive.

As I am beginning to look into the next 25 years of MSU history I am beginning to understand the construction and expansion of the university. Although I have yet to look at the actual buildings that were being built, I am noticing trends in the location of the new buildings. In 1900, the mandatory manual labor that students were required to participate in began to fizzle out. The need for the immense farmlands was becoming unnecessary. I am predicting that the building expansion eastward onto the farmlands is a result of the change in class structure. I guess only more research will give me an answer…so back to the books I go!