Chemical Laboratory, 1870s


Chemical Laboratory, 1870s

Built in 1856 at the request of President Tappan, the "chemical laboratory for analytical courses" was one of the first in the world devoted exclusively to laboratory instruction in chemistry. Originally only three rooms, it was expanded many times, and provided 135 lab benches by 1868. After a new chemistry building was erected in 1909, the economics department occupied the old building until it was destroyed by fire in 1981.

Frame location: West side of State Street north of the walk on the north side of the Michigan Union, facing east

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Campus as later recalled by a member of the class of 1849


Campus as later recalled by a member of the class of 1849

Campus from state and north university at the end of Tappan's presidency, 1863. Note the stile on the fence at left.

Frame location: West side of State Street north of the walk on the north side of the Michigan Union, facing east

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Detroit Observatory, 1858


Detroit Observatory, 1858

Completed in 1854 on a hill northeast of campus, the Detroit observatory demonstrated president Tappan's commitment to practical scientific education. Detroit businessmen, eager for an accurate timekeeping service, provided funding. director Franz Brunnow was UM's first ph.d. professor and became Tappan's son-in-law. the observatory, stripped of later additions and restored, with its two original telescopes, reopened as a museum in 1999.

Frame location: West side of State Street north of the walk on the north side of the Michigan Union, facing east

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President's House from Campus, 1870s


President's House from Campus, 1870s

One of the four faculty houses built in 1840 became the president's house when Henry P. Tappan arrived in 1852. It is the only surviving original campus building. the third floor and kitchen wing were added before 1871, when James B. Angell made indoor plumbing a requirement for accepting the presidency. the campus side included barns, an orchard, and a vegetable garden.

Frame location: West side of State Street north of the walk on the north side of the Michigan Union, facing east

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Portrait of Henry P. Tappan


Portrait of Henry P. Tappan

Henry Philip Tappan, UM's first president, was a brilliant educator and eloquent speaker who fired the students' enthusiasm. The regents, antagonized by his arrogant manner and liberal approach to religion, fired him in 1863 despite vigorous public protest. President Angell later said Tappan was "the largest figure of a man that ever appeared on the Michigan campus. And he was stung to death by gnats!"

Frame location: West side of State Street north of the walk on the north side of the Michigan Union, facing east

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Mason Hall and South College, ca. 1860


Mason Hall and South College, ca. 1860

When classes began in 1841, Mason Hall (left) housed classrooms, a chapel, a library, a museum, and dormitory rooms. Two professors taught thirteen students Greek, Latin, mathematics, and rhetoric. South College (right), a second classroom-dormitory block, was added in 1849. Henry P. Tappan, UM's first president (1852-1863), envisioned a great university that would make Ann Arbor "a new Athens." An early advocate of scientific research and the practical use of knowledge, he added an observatory, a chemical laboratory, and a law building. Affirming UM's nonsectarian nature, he recruited intellectually distinguished young men to join the existing faculty of Protestant clergymen. He ridiculed providing "vast dormitories for the night's sleep, instead of creating libraries and laboratories for the day's work." After 1858 students lived in rooming houses. Briefly, after the Civil War, UM was the nation's largest university with 32 professors and more than 1,200 students, over half in medicine and law. Tappan's vision was advanced by James B. Angell, who added over 30 buildings during his presidency (1871-1909). Latin and Greek were no longer required, seminar teaching was introduced, and laboratories and clinical teaching expanded. Colleges, schools, and departments evolved: Dentistry and Homeopathic Medicine 1875, Pharmacy 1876, Engineering 1895, and Forestry 1903. Angell staunchly supported coeducation. Foreign student enrollment rose, especially from China, after Angell's two years there as U.S. minister.

Frame location: West side of State Street north of the walk on the north side of the Michigan Union, facing east

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Portrait of University President Henry Phillip Tappan


Portrait of University President Henry Phillip Tappan

Citizens from town, country, and University gathered on Courthouse Square for important civic events. In 1861, friends of the Union assembled there to hear reports of the Confederate army attack on Fort Sumter. On April 15, university president Henry Tappan and other prominent townspeople went to the old Courthouse to address citizens about the crisis. The meeting overflowed across the square into the street. Resolutions were passed supporting President Lincoln and establishing a committee to assist in organizing military companies.

Four Ann Arbor military units were quickly formed. The "Silver Greys," a Home Guard unit made up of men over age forty-five, included Tappan and the town's most illustrious citizens.

Keywords: Tappan, portraits

Frame location: On West wall of Courthouse

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Henry Tappan Civil War address


Henry Tappan Civil War address

When the news reached Ann Arbor in April 1861 that Fort Sumter had been fired on, the citizenry called on University of Michigan President Henry Tappan for an inspirational address delivered on the lawn of the courthouse in the center of town.

Though some parts of the North needed to draft men into the Union Army, Michigan citizens eagerly joined up. Ann Arbor's three units reflected the town's makeup: the Steuben Guards, the Barry Guards, and the University Battalion. Men older than forty-five formed the Silver Greys as a home guard.

Bentley Image Bank: BL000113

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Image Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Historical Society



Henry Tappan, 1860


Henry Tappan, 1860

In 1852 the regents hired Henry Philip Tappan as the university's first president. His vision of a great university on the German model laid the foundation for what has become one of the premier universities of the world. During his tenure, the Medical and Law Departments were added to the original Literary Department and the dormitories converted to classrooms. A firm believer in scientific research and the practical application of knowledge, Tappan broke with the past by recruiting faculty based on intellectual accomplishments rather than religious denomination.

Henry Tappan's liberal approach and confident manner offended the regents, who forced his resignation in 1863, despite vigorous public protest. Later President James B. Angell said Tappan was "the largest figure of a man that ever appeared on the Michigan campus. And he was stung to death by gnats!"

Bentley Image Bank: BL000120

Hey, were you looking for the Summer Game code? You found it! Enter TAPPAN on your play.aadl.org player page for your badge.

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Image Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Historical Society



Detroit Observatory, 1854


Detroit Observatory, 1854

1308 East Ann Street

Detroit Observatory, 1854

Built in 1854, and called, until 1931, the Detroit Observatory, this building housed the first large telescope constructed in the United States, for years the third largest refractor in the world. The twelve and one-half inch telescope was made by Henry Fitz of New York, who held it as a matter of both personal and patriotic pride that he, an American locksmith and inventor untrained in optics, had invented his own process for making the complex and difficult achromatic lens, and that he was able to manufacture telescopes to compete with those of European make. The meridian circle, still intact, was used to compute time from observations of stars crossing the meridian. A special telegraph wire connected the Observatory with the Ann Arbor depot of the Michigan Central Railroad, which bought time readings to set its schedules.

The Observatory itself is a monument to the broad vision and indefatigable fund raising efforts of University President Henry Philip Tappan, who suggested the project to Henry Nelson Walker, a prominent Detroit lawyer with iron mine and railroad interests. Walker, who initiated and guaranteed construction, took an active part in fund raising and in choosing the site. He engaged George Bird to plan and superintend the building. A brass plate on the meridian circle, for which Walker was the major contributor, indicates that it was named in his honor.

"I cannot speak of the Observatory without emotion," Tappan wrote. "No one will deny that it was a creation of my own." Tappan, eager to advance the science of astronomy at the University of Michigan, spent weeks in Europe purchasing scientific equipment, and engaged Dr. Franz Brunnow to come from the Berlin Royal Observatory to direct the work here.

The center section of this Italianate building is thirty-three feet square, surmounted by a revolving dome twenty-one feet in diameter. The side wings are each twelve by twenty-nine feet. Later classroom and office additions were razed in1954 and 1976, leaving the original edifice intact.

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Photos used to illustrate Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan / by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.



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