Property: Alice B. Cowles House East Lansing
To begin, the name of this house is pronounced "coals," like the lumps found in the Christmas stockings of naughty children. Designed by architect J. J. Scott of Toledo, the building was one of 11 houses known as Faculty Row. This string of residences was constructed for Michigan Agricultural College faculty between 1857 and 1874, along what is now West Circle Drive.
This home, formerly called “Number Seven,” was separated from the other buildings and was sited facing them from the south side of the road. This circumstance likely contributed to its continued existence after the other houses were demolished to make way for larger classroom buildings and dormitories.
Cowles House is regarded as the oldest building on campus, although extensive renovations have reduced the original fabric of the building to its foundation, plus the north (front) and east elevations. A clear change in brickwork and window proportions are easily noted along the front elevation.
The home’s original bricks were produced locally, using clay gathered from the Red Cedar River by college students. One of those students was named Albewles. His grandson, university alumnus Frederick Cowles Jenison provided the funds used in the 1950s remodel and renamed the home after his mother.
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