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Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI, USA 48197
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(734) 487-1849


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Historic Tour > Virtual Tour > Hover Building

Hover Building

Historic Name(s): Hover Laboratory and Greenhouse (1941-2003),
Hover Building

Hover Building

Hover Building (2003-present)

Date constructed: 1941

Architect: R. S. Gerganoff of Ypsilanti

Style of Architecture: PWA Moderne

Original Use: Science Building & Greenhouse

Dates of renovation: 2002: Redeveloped to house the Business and Finance Department.

Current Use: Houses the Business and Finance Department

History: Hover laboratory was built as yet another Munson era building project. This time, Munson was able to use Works Project Administration (WPA) labor to build the new laboratory building for $53,000. The WPA was a Depression Era program run by the federal government in an effort to give jobs to hundreds of unemployed workers. Using his broad influence, Munson was able to get WPA labor to construct not only the laboratory but also hundreds of miles of pipes under the campus of EMU as part of his building plan.

Hover Laboratory was intended to house biology laboratories. Its name honors John Milton Hover, 1908 graduate of Normal College and head of Department of Natural Sciences and Dean of Administration (1919-40). Hover had a colorful life, including an attempt for the 1934 Republican nomination to congress. He was active among civic functions including being a member of city council and a member of the Ypsilanti board of Education. Students at Normal liked and respected Hover for his kindness and deep involvement with campus life. Hover had such popularity with the student body, that following his sudden death in 1940, President Munson wrote the faculty:

The funeral of Dean Hover takes place at 4:00 o’clock Tuesday. The examination period 2-4 Tuesday afternoon will close promptly at 3:30. All instructors are requested to reduce extent of examinations accordingly.
June 10, 1940 J. M. Munson”.

When the new laboratory opened a year later, it was named in his honor. The building was designed to house the Department of Biology laboratories, a greenhouse, and a plant laboratory and Biology Career Center. The brick

Hover Greenhouse

Hover Greenhouse
Hover Building (being renovated)

Hover Building (being renovated)
building had classrooms on either side of entrance, with workrooms behind them, and offices connected to the workrooms. A green house was connected to the back. The architects designed the building so that wings could be added later if necessary.

Form many years, the old greenhouse was a popular lunch spot. The college acquired it in 1941, but the building is believed to have been constructed about 1902. With his usual frugality, Munson negotiated the purchase of the $20,000 greenhouse for the paltry sum of $3,500 from the Eskine estate of South Bend, IN. The Greenhouse replaced the science garden that had been planted behind Sherzer.

On its new site, the greenhouse included a bulb caller and space for two classrooms as well as a desert room containing a century plant, a cork oak tree, and tropical room housing a dwarf banana plant. Aproximately 200 plants were in the building including an Indian rubber plant, a fig tree, a corn plant, orchids, and birds of paradise. Spanish moss hung from the plants and was used in the spring by squirrels to line their nests. Many doves often nested in the tops of the trees gaining entrance through vents in the top.

By 2001, the building was no longer used for lab space, and the aging greenhouse had been removed. The greenhouse and plant collections were moved to the new Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology Research Facility near McKenny Union. The Hover Building was thoroughly renovated in 2002 to house the University's Business and Finance division, which moved into the building in the spring of 2003.