University to demolish North Hall (ROTC Headquarters)

Submitted by James Burrill Angell on September 24th, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Here's the links. First from the Detroit News:

Then the Michigan Daily

Sounds like the University is saying its too old to repair as the building is a century old.



September 24th, 2013 at 11:51 AM ^

A lot of great memories in that building. Sad to see it go. Pretty sure it was haunted. That, or the janitor just lived there at night...


September 24th, 2013 at 1:07 PM ^

Now thats a bit harsh. While campuses such as University of Minnesota have done some terrible things with cast concrete and EIFS over the years, University of Michigan has doled out some dough to keep it real (e.g. the facade-ectomy for North Quad on Huron and State as well as the exterior of the press-box at Michigan Stadium). 


September 24th, 2013 at 3:29 PM ^

Yeah, with the exception of the new B-School building (I don't know what they were thinking there), pretty much all new construction over the past 10-15 years on campus has been tastefully done and usually in the same red brick-and-limestone style to give the campus more of a coherent look.

Zone Left

September 24th, 2013 at 7:47 PM ^

On the inside, Ross is awesome. The orange thing on the outside...yeah, not my favorite.

The coherent look is interesting. Notre Dame goes so far as to require exterior stone on new buildings to be weathered prior to completion. It looks great, but is the kind of thing that only a university could do.


September 25th, 2013 at 11:07 AM ^

I was talking to someone about the Ross building, and he theorized that the orange and turquoise color scheme was a kind of hommage to Ross's pro sports franchise.  That seems a little farfetched, but then, Ross carries a lot of weight, so who knows?

Bando Calrissian

September 24th, 2013 at 12:06 PM ^

I used to work at the Dental School, and it would always be a bit freaky when the ROTC folks would be running drills or setting up to rapel off the side of the building. I'd walk out the door for lunch and there'd be a row of people running by in combat gear between me and the hot dog truck...

A bummer, though, it's a nifty little building, even if old.

Bando Calrissian

September 25th, 2013 at 1:26 AM ^

The best one was a straight-up kosher dog stand that had a picture with name and contact info for the rabbi who oversaw them. It was parked in front of the League for about two weeks one summer, and then disappeared for good when the city temporarily cracked down on sidewalk hot dog vendors.

I've been chasing a street dog that good ever since.


September 24th, 2013 at 12:06 PM ^

Here's a link to a short history of the building (LINK)

It did house the Homeopathic Medical College at one point early in its life and it had a capacity of 140 beds. It is over 48,000 square feet and was built for $80,306.50 in 1899 dollars. 


September 24th, 2013 at 12:27 PM ^

...why it's being demolished. According to my buddy who's now the the former Professor of Naval Science, when the Life Sciences buildings were constructed, the work done behind North Hall undermined its foundation. As a result the sub basement which housed the morgue of the former Homeopathic Medical College (and that's why it was such a damn great place for our Haunted House), was condemned. The repair bill to mitigate the damage to the foundation was apparently astronomical. 

I'll be sad to see North Hall go, but the three ROTC units could certainly benefit from having a modern space that's specfically designed for their needs. 


September 24th, 2013 at 2:09 PM ^

I stopped by to talk to the current Navy leadership there when I was in town for the Notre Dame game and was told the same story. Additionally was told that the University's initial offer was to relocate them to Bursley Hall which they lead me to believe is scheduled to be closed as a dorm. After some discussion they were able to convince the adminisration that this would effectively kill the ROTC program and they are currently unsure of where they will end up.

I was also told that the building has been in the University's five year plan to be torn down sinc the 70's and as a result essentially no money has been allocated for upkeep for the last 40 years. Given that little has changed in the building since I was a Navy ROTC there in the early 80's I tend to believe that story.


September 24th, 2013 at 3:03 PM ^

...I just spoke to the NROTCU XO and here's the story. 

As noted below, LSA has wanted to expand the Life Sciences campus in a major way for some time. LSA owns Ruthven and the Provost owns North Hall. To expand certain research efforts currently done at Ruthven and adjacent buildings, they were going to connect Ruthven and these buildings by a new tunnel. Instead, a deal was struck to demolish North Hall and the Museum Annex to make way for the new Life Sciences building. 

It is accurate that the university's first plan was for the ROTC units to move to Bursley/Baits. They objected strongly, likening such a move to being exiled. With some assistance from an allied Regent, they were able to turn off that decision.

Instead, they will spend the next five years in refurbished space in the old Chemistry Bldg. 

Your last paragraph is 100% accurate. North Hall is not up to fire code and isn't ADA compliant. The university has been able to get around this for the last 40 years because they've always listed it as a 5 year building (i.e., not in the permanent plan). The fact that the building's foundation was undermined and it can't be shored up without significant cost made the decision inevitable. 

I told the XO that if they need any assistance with the decision on where to permanently locate the three units, they should reach out to the tri-service alumni base. I'm sure we'd be more than willing to make our voices heard regarding this issue.

Stay tuned, shipmates.


September 24th, 2013 at 11:12 PM ^ construct a new building to house the ROTC units. That sentence is confusing. What it means to say is that a new building for Life Sciences will be constructed where North Hall is now after it's demolished. 

As I said: The University wanted to move the units to Bursley/Baits. The units felt that it was not in their best interests not to be on Central Campus. An allied Regent assisted them in reversing that decision and the new plan is to spend the next five years in the old Chem Bldg. What happens after that is TBD. The XO did mention one location to me as a potential future location, but I can't see how it would be practical so I won't mention it. 

In non-related news, the XO told me that the NROTCU has reestablished its relationship with the U-M Sailing Club and is back to requiring Mids to obtain their sailing quals. Apparently that went away in the late 90s and they were able to obtain and keep a waiver from CNET. So now the Mids are back to making the trek up US-23 and taking out the Lasers.


September 24th, 2013 at 2:43 PM ^

Shame to see it go, if for no other reason than the fact that the morgue was ONLY used for the haunted house.  In the early '90s, when I was in Army ROTC, I was accidentally locked in down there after working the haunted house all night.

Being locked in a haunted house, that is located in the basement of a 19th century building, that used to be a morgue, for about 45 minutes, all alone.... pretty freaky experience.


September 24th, 2013 at 3:29 PM ^

I can confirm this is correct, a large portion of the wing on the Dental School was marked as no access when I did my orientation for Marine ROTC.  However the Marines showed that area and the massive cracks because "Marines aren't pussies like those squids."  Also the University never really repaired it beyond taking it to a point it wasn't condemned.  Circa 2007 or so the patchwork as still visible in a number of classrooms and a couple of new cracks were coming along quite nicely.  

It's ashame because the building has a lot of history, but its time has clearly come.  


September 24th, 2013 at 12:43 PM ^

Sad to hear, though I'm kind of surprised that it's still standing.  I thought it was about ready for demolition when I was cadet there in the mid-80s. 

Julius 1977

September 24th, 2013 at 1:27 PM ^

the building with the shooting range.  At least there was one back in the late 70's.  There were NRA qualifications there and I vividly remember my girlfriend, who had never shot before, making Sharpshooter before I did. 


September 24th, 2013 at 1:59 PM ^

...recollection. The old shooting range we used in the '80s was located in a building behind North Hall and the Natural History Museum. It was torn down when the Life Sciences buildings were built. 

I don't know where the on campus range is today, if it exists.


September 24th, 2013 at 1:53 PM ^

I work next door (museums annex... also to be torn down) and will also have to relocate. The reason both buildings are going is they are building another biology/science building. Ruthven will be renovated into new "pay to play" labs. This area will look quite different.


September 24th, 2013 at 5:37 PM ^

I spent WAY too much time in North Hall... bad memories of early morning PT and standing at attention for inspection - now being torn down

I loved being on the club Rifle team - that range was torn down a while ago

We marched in (silly) formations in an empty South Ferry field - now the lacross field (I think)


By the way my freshman dorm was Bursely - sounds like that is closing

and my fraternity house burned down the year after I left campus


At least the Business School did not get completely demolished and rebuilt after I finsihed my MBA - ...oh wait


(Count me in as part of the vocal NROTC alumni in favor of a good new home for the unit.)

Vamos Azul

September 24th, 2013 at 9:12 PM ^

Probably my favorite year at the University was the year that I spent too much time at North Hall.  One of my few regrets during my time was divulging my (lost) asthma history... North Hall has some great character and I love the memories that flood from the building!

Also, Vas... I hope Alaska is treating you right!