Tour > Virtual Tour > Sherzer Hall
Names: Natural Science Building (changed
E. W. Arnold of Battle Creek. Design suggested
by William Sherzer (drawn on the back of an
of Architecture: Late Nineteenth
Century Eclectic with elements of Georgian
Revival and Victorian Romanesque arched doorway.
Use: Contained natural science laboratories
Dates of renovation: 1957
renovated for natural science department and
became new quarters for college field services.
Burned March 9, 1989 but was rebuilt and reopened
on October 27, 1990
Use: Art Department studios and classrooms.
Observatory on roof.
William H. Sherzer
Hall - Laboratory
Observatory of Sherzer Hall
Register of Historic Place: 1984
Named for Dr. William H. Sherzer,
professor of geology and head of Department
of Natural Sciences (1892-1932). He had studied
in Germany with his friend Edwin A. Strong
(see Strong Hall). According to legend Dr.
Sherzer sketched a plan for the new Natural
Science Building on the back of an envelope
based on the science buildings he saw when
he studied in Germany. The 1902 Aurora, Michigan
Normal’s yearbook, wrote that “Externally
the new Natural Science Building will be of
good proportions, but will be plain and substantial
rather than elegant. Indeed, it will appear
what it is, a place for serious work.”
Henry Jones, president of the university 1903-11,
dreamed of expanding Michigan Normal College
as the school was then called. He hoped to
build not only a science building but also
an auditorium and a new laboratory school.
By the turn of the century, however, there
were three other teacher training programs
in the state and funding was becoming more
restricted. Jones only managed to finance
the new science building. His primary contribution
to the school, both through the new building
and through new classes, was to broaden the
Original plans placed classrooms on the first
floor and offices for the professors above.
Plans of the building show that some of the
second floor offices were connected to the
classrooms below by small private staircases.
These private staircases allowed the professors
to avoid the crush of students in the hallways
before classes. College enrollment expanded
rapidly at the turn of the century and overcrowding
became a problem at Normal. Classes sometimes
had more than 60 students and halls filled
almost to bursting between classes. The building
provided for the growing needs of the college.
In 1922, the Natural Science Building was
further updated when a 10-inch refractor telescope
was installed on roof of building.
Hall Burns On
March 9th, 1989
of the exterior & 70%
of the interior was destroyed
sustained two fires. In 1973 a small fire
caused $10,000 of damage all of which was
completely restored. On March 9, 1989, however,
the building burned almost to the ground.
50% of the exterior and 70% of the interior
was destroyed. In a dramatic story of restoration,
the building was entirely rebuilt in 18 months.
During the rebuilding, the old wood floors
were replaced with concrete slabs and an elevator
shaft was added to the building. Quinn Evans
Architects and Eastern Michigan University
received joint recognition for the excellent
reproduction of Sherzer Hall’s original
masonry techniques. They received special
recognition from the Masonry Institute in
1992. Built for $55,000 in 1903, the building
was rebuilt 87 years later for 5.5 million.
EMU Art Department moved to Sherzer. Today,
however, the building still maintains ties
to its scientific heritage though its rooftop
observatory. In December 1997 a new radio
telescope was installed on the roof to collect
radio waves created by celestial objects.
of Sherzer Hall (Click on the image
for a bigger view)