The only known photograph of the Michigan Female College purportedly from 1866. There are other images of North Lansing where it appears in the background. (CADL/FPLA)
The Michigan Female College was designed by Detroit architects, Albert Jordan and James Anderson, but just what style of building they designed for the Roger’s sisters is bit of a mystery. Did the building have one wing, two wings or just the central structure? Did an unknown architect design the north wing which was but several years later or was it Jordan & Anderson that designed the addition? In the above photograph from 1866, you can see that the structure only consisted of a main building, there were no dormitory wings. There is a description of the building from 1873 that mentions the presences of a north wing. Note the central copula and the position of the chimneys. In the architectural drawing below, from the 1859 map of Ingham County, you can observe that the college had a central structure with two wings. That rendering was done by the architectural firm of Jordan & Anderson. Did the below drawing represent the sister’s planned vision for the college or Jordan & Anderson’s? Note that in the 1866 image the building has a hip roof with a flat deck, while the 1873 drawing had tradition slant roof.This image is from the 1866 Bird’s Eye View map of Lansing, note how it resembles the 1859 image presented below.
The Michigan Female College, from the 1859 Map of Ingham County. A drawing by the architects Jordan & Anderson. Note the copulas but the lack of chimneys.
After the death of Abigail C. Rogers in 1868, her sister Miss Delia Rogers, decided to close the Michigan Female College. Given that the Michigan Agricultural College and the University of Michigan had begun to admit women in 1870 it was a wise business decision. The International Order of the Oddfellows’ purchased the building and property that once served as the college in August 1871 at a cost of $40,000. (DFP8/17/1871 and SR8/19/1871) The Oddfellows’ began a remodeling of the building in 1872 and a short description follows. “The edifice, in outline cruciform, filled in at the intersections, is to be of the French style of architecture, its Mansard roof rising ten feet above the cornice which crowns the main brick wall; with four main and four wing towers, the former extending 80 feet, the latter 60 feet, above the basement walls and forming part of the outer walls of the building.” The description is from the State RepublicanAugust 3, 1872, based upon an account provided by Colonel E.M. Fitch that appeared in the August issue of the Odd Fellows’ Companion with a drawing.
A woodcut of the Odd Fellows’ Institute from 1873. Unfortunately, the above rendering never happened. Only the north wing and central core was modified in the Second Empire style and it did not have a double entrance. FromLansing, the Capital of Michigan, 1873.
The renovations to the Michigan Female College building for the Odd Fellows’ Society were carried out by Saginaw architect, John B. Dibble. Since the college building consisted of a central structure and a north wing, those were the only structures that were altered in the Second Empire Style. The south wing and the separate front entrances were not built at this time. The striking feature in the above design was the entrance porch. The double entryway with its wonderful decorative gable and the three Victorian gothic chapel style windows on the second floor over a recessed porch. The iron cresting on the mansard towers is a bit exaggerated and curious because it seems to overwhelm the towers.
The above photograph shows the building of the Michigan Female College being updated by the Odd Fellows into a Second Empire structure, observe the scaffolding at the center. Now compare the image with the photograph below of the entrance for the School for the Blind and the earlier wood cut of the Michigan Female College, notice the number and position of the windows in both images. (CADL/FPLA)
There was quite a bit of resentment from the rank and file of International Order of the Odd Fellows’ (I.O.O.F.) in Michigan to the extortion tactics, their words not mine, of the state I.O.O.F. office in their attempt to raise money for the completion of the home and educational institute. (Alpena Argus12/30/1874) The remodeling of the building was not completed until late 1875 or early 1876. The vision of the state office of the I.O.O.F. was not shared by the members of the organization and the building was offered for sale in June 1878. The advertisement in the Detroit Free Pressstated that the “building on the property consists of a main front and wing. The main front is 57 feet square and four stories high, including basement, the wing is 40×50 and four stories high, including the basement” (DFP6/16/1878).
If you are interested in learning more about the Michigan Female College and the I.O.O.F. hall click on the links below.
©Lost Lansing 2019