What's in a Name: Residence Hall Building Namesakes

Brody Neighborhood
Published On: April 15, 2019

Michigan State university was founded in 1855 and opened in the midst of a forest with just three buildings to its name. Fast forward to 2019, none of the original buildings remain, but the campus has expanded to 5,200 acres of land, 2,000 of which have been developed.

164 years. 5,200 acres. 566 buildings. Approximately 576,000 living alumni worldwide, many of whom lived on campus during at least part of their education at MSU.

Join us on this virtual walk through campus, and learn about each residence hall’s namesake.


North Neighborhood

Abbot Hall was built in 1939 and is named after Theophilus Abbot, president of MSU from 1862-84.

Campbell Hall was opened in 1939 and is named after Louise Campbell, who led MSU Home Economic Outreach in the 1920s and began the practice of teaching and training for rural women.

Gilchrist Hall was built in 1948 and is named after Maude Gilchrist, who was a graduate of Michigan’s Agricultural College (the former name of MSU) and the dean of the Women's Department.

Landon Hall was built 1947 and is named after Linda Landon, the first female instructor at MSU.

Mason Hall opened in 1938 and is named after Stevens T. Mason, the first governor of Michigan.

Mayo Hall was built in 1931 and is named after Mary Mayo, who started women’s courses at MSU. Known originally as the Sylvan Lodge, the hall was located in a small park, the remains of which can be seen in a group of trees east of the building.

Phillips Hall was built in 1947 and is named after T. Glenn Phillips, MSU class of 1902, who developed the master plan for the growth of campus in the 1930s and 1940s.

Snyder Hall was built in 1947 and is named after former MSU President Jonathan L. Snyder.

Williams Hall was constructed in 1937 after the original hall burned down in a fire. The hall is named after Sarah Williams, the wife of MSU’s first president.

Yakeley Hall was built in 1948 and is named after Elida Yakeley, who was the secretary to President Snyder from 1903 to 1908. During her time at MSU, Yakeley became the first registrar, a position she held for 30 years.


South Neighborhood

Case Hall was built in 1961 and is named after Albert and Sarah Case. During their time at MSU, Sarah was an instructor and Albert was the 1901 State Agricultural College football captain, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1902.

Holden Hall opened in 1967 and is named after James and Lynelle Holden. James became a State Agricultural student in 1889.

Wilson Hall was built in 1962 and is named after Alfred and Mathilda Wilson. Mathilda served on the State Board of Agriculture, now known as the MSU Board of Trustees.

Wonders Hall opened in 1963 and is named after MSU benefactors Wallace and Grace Wonders. Wallace received his Bachelor of Science degree from MSU in 1902.


East Neighborhood

Akers Hall was built in 1964 and is named after Forest H. Akers, an MSU student from the early 1900s and later became the vice president of the Dodge division of Chrysler Corp and served on the Board of Agriculture for 18 years.

Holmes Hall opened in 1965 and is named after John C. Holmes, a Detroit horticulturalist.

Hubbard Hall opened in 1966 and is named after Bela Hubbard, a Detroit farmer and geologist whose proposal for an agricultural college led to the creation of MSU.


Brody Neighborhood

Armstrong Hall opened in 1956 and is named after W.G. Armstrong, a former student, farmer, and member of the MSU Board of Trustees. 

Bailey Hall opened during the 1956-57 school year and is named after Liberty Hyde Bailey. A professor of agriculture and an MSU alumnus himself, Bailey planned the first horticulture laboratory building in the nation.

Bryan Hall opened in 1954 and is named after Claude Bryan, dean of Veterinary Medicine in the late 1940s.

Butterfield Hall opened in 1953 and is named after Kenyon Butterfield, an MSU graduate who also served as president of the university between 1924 and 1928.

Emmons Hall opened in 1956 and is named after Lloyd C. Emmons, the dean of the School of Science and Arts.

Rather Hall opened in 1954 and is named after Howard C. Rather, an MSU alumnus and professor of farm crops.


River Trail Neighborhood

McDonel Hall was opened in 1963 and named for Irma and Karl McDonel. Karl was secretary to the State Board of Agriculture, which is now the MSU Board of Trustees.

Owen Hall was built in 1960 and is named after Floyd Owen, class of 1902, who provided part of the funding to build the hall.

Shaw Hall was built in 1950 and is named for Robert Sidney Shaw, MSU’s 11th president, who led the university through the Great Depression.

Van Hoosen Hall was built in 1957 and named for Dr. Sarah Van Hoosen, a fifth-generation farmer and a leading genetic researcher who donated land to MSU.


Everything in Between

1855 Place was built in 2017 and named after the year the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, later MSU, was founded.

Breslin Student Events Center was named in honor of Jack Breslin and dedicated in 1989. Breslin, a Battle Creek native, served his alma mater as a distinguished student leader, honored athlete, top administrator and relentless advocate. In 1969 he was one of the first administrators to initiate planning for a multipurpose, student facility and continued to be the leading force through the conceptual design.

Cowles House was completed in 1857, making it MSU’s oldest building, and was one of four homes built to house the earliest faculty members and administrators of MSU.