Albion Interactive History / Albion College Quadrangle

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / Buildings / Albion College

Quadrangle, 1893

Once U.S. Senator James McMillan agreed to donate money for construction of a laboratory on the campus of Albion College, then consisting of only five buildings, talk of a site for the new building began. Already the Bell House, Central Building, North Hall, South Hall and Observatory occupied what would become the eastern half of the Quadrangle. At that time the western half of the future quadrangle was called “Union Square” an open space whose ownership was in question.

On November 22, 1892, a petition was made to the Albion Common Council by President Fiske, Delos Fall, and eight others asking the council to vacate the portion of Oswego street between Cass and Porter streets, that “Albion College be enabled to obtain and acquire a suitable location for the erection of a large building of Educational purposes.” (Ibid., p. 700) The request was granted.

At a December 20 semi-annual session of the Board of Trustees, James Sheldon revealed a concern about “complication of the title covering all the campus west of the line of Ingham St.” (Trustees Minutes, p. 424) The Board of Trustees were determined to annex all of Union Square to the college campus. Though they had no legal grounds to stand on, “the Executive Committee was instructed to immediately proceed to employ necessary legal talent and ascertain the true condition of affairs respecting the title of the College to the land and report back to the Board at the earliest practicable moment.”

On January 19, 1893 President Fiske and James W. Sheldon appeared and presented to the Council their reasons for asking the City to vacate that portion of Oswego St. across College campus, viz. to build several new beautiful buildings in that immediate vicinity.

In a special session on March 15, the Common Council considered a petition “asking the City of Albion to release all the rights, title and interest in Union Square, a piece of land in the center of the College Campus.” (City of Albion Records, March 14, 1893, p. 713). Without a vote of dissent the following resolution was adopted:

Whereas; there appears on the plan of the City of Albion a certain piece or parcel of land named and described as Union Square. Whereas said Union Square forms a part of the Campus of Albion College. Whereas Albion College possesses by purchase all the right and titles to and interests in said Union Square except the rights of the public acquired by recording the plat of Albion, and whereas it is apparent that if said Union square remains public grounds the interests of the College and of the City will greatly suffer. Therefore, Resolved, that to encourage valuable improvements within the City of Albion, to remove conditions that might be a barrier to such improvements, and to confer on Albion College the right and power to locate College buildings on such portions of the College as will be most convenient for the College purposes and most ornamental to the grounds, we hereby vacate said Union Square as public grounds, surrendering to Albion College all the rights, title, and interest to and in said Union Square which the City has acquired by the platting of the same. (Ibid., pp. 713-14)

For the first time the institution could feel free to formulate long-range plans for campus expansion in the one direction in could move. President Fiske and Prof. Fall must have shared a deep feeling of satisfaction en route home as they talked over the events of that March night.

From that point the McMillan Laboratory project was allowed proceed, and development of the quadrangle began.

Source: Keith Fennimore. The Albion College Sesquicentennial History. Albion, Michigan: Albion College. 1985.


North Hall, Central Building, and South Hall in 1862 and 1870 before Quadrangle expanded to Union Square.

Quadrangle in 1894 just after college expanded into Union Square.

Quadrangle after McMillan Laboratory constructed (right corner).

Stockwell Library, Observatory, and Epworth Building in 2000.  

Source: Isaac Kremer, August 2003

From the Albion College Archives

The Quad

The quadrangle, or “Quad”, is the heart of Albion’s campus.

Fall view of the Quad, 1977-78 from the College Archives Photograph Files

The Quad contains the oldest buildings on campus and most of the classroom space is either on or near the Quad. During the 1880s, the football field was on the Quad.

Two items of interest are the bell, taken from one of the original buildings known as the Bell House, located on the east end of Robinson Hall, and the Rock, which has been an icon of Albion College for over 100 years. The Rock gets painted by students on a nearly daily schedule. Over the years, it has been painted, wrapped, tarred and feathered, photographed, stolen, and sculpted in miniature.

On warm days, it is not unusual to see several classes being held on the grass on the Quad. In May, and weather allowing, commencement is held at the west end of the Quad, using the steps of Kresge Gymnasium as a stage. ——————————————————————————–

Networked Resources
Albion Views: The Quad in Winter
Albion Views: Commencement 2001
Albion Views: Ferguson in Spring
Albion’s History
Laing, Susan. “The Albion Underground.” Pleiad. Retrieved 10 June 2003,

Source: Albion College Archives, 2003 [Downloaded July 3, 2003]

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