Cowles House (East Lansing, Michigan)

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Cowles House
MSU Alice B Cowles House.jpg
Former namesFaculty Row No. 7
General information
TypePresident's House
Architectural styleEclectic
LocationMichigan State University, West Circle Drive
Coordinates42°44′00″N 84°29′04″W / 42.7334°N 84.4845°W / 42.7334; -84.4845Coordinates: 42°44′00″N 84°29′04″W / 42.7334°N 84.4845°W / 42.7334; -84.4845
Named forAlice B. Cowles
Completed1857, 1950
Design and construction
ArchitectJ.J. Scott (1857)
Calder (1950)

Alice B. Cowles House (formerly Faculty Row House Number 7) is a structure on the campus of Michigan State University. It is the oldest extant building on MSU's campus, though only the foundation and two exterior walls remain from the original 1857 construction.

Originally built to house faculty before the founding of what is now East Lansing, Number 7's earliest residents were presidents Joseph R. Williams and T. C. Abbot. When a new president's house was built at Faculty Row Number 1 (no longer standing), Number 7 became the residence of the Professor of Botany; William J. Beal and his family lived here for 39 years. As East Lansing grew and professors moved away from Faculty Row, the house served several purposes over the years, including offices for the Education Department and as a women's dormitory.

It has been the official president's residence since 1941, beginning with President John A. Hannah, who had the house extensively remodeled to suit this purpose. A 1950 renovation funded by alumnus Frederick Cowles Jenison resulted in the house being named for Jenison's mother, Alice B. Cowles. (Jenison's grandfather, Albert Cowles, had been a student in the school's first class and had helped haul the bricks during the original construction.)

After Hannah at least two presidents have chosen not to live in the house: Walter Adams during his 1969 administration,[1] and from 2005-2018 former President Lou Anna Simon. Both of these presidents preferred to remain in their East Lansing homes, and instead used Cowles House primarily for formal entertaining and other official university functions.


  1. ^ Adams, Walter (2003) [1971]. The Test. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 978-0-87013-648-1.
  • Kuhn, Madison. (1955). Michigan State: The First Hundred Years, 1855-1955. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 0-87013-222-9.
  • Miller, Whitney. (2002). East Lansing: Collegeville Revisited (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-2045-4.
  • Stanford, Linda O. (2002). MSU Campus: Buildings, Places, Spaces. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 0-87013-631-3.

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