East Hall as we know it today is almost complete in this picture. The original Administration Building, with its cupola, was completed in 1905. Additional classrooms plus the gymnasium were added in 1906-07. The Training School—a functioning elementary school for on-site teacher training—was built in 1909 on the south side of the Administration Building.
Note the trolley on the right side of the postcard. Two cable cars ran on the tracks; one went up the hill as the other went down. The campus trolley—also known as "Normal's Railroad", "Western Railroad" and "Toonerville Trolley" ran from 1908 until 1949. A sign commemorating the trolley, a gift from the Class of 1949, stands on the south side of East Hall.
1913-14 mailing card for Western State Normal School
This is an example of a mailing card the Western State Normal School sent in order to publicize the school. The front of the card is a wide panorama of the school, where you can see the Administration Building (East Hall), with the gymnasium to its right, and the training school to its left. On the right of the photo, you can see the trolley that took students up Prospect Hill. The back of the card highlights points of pride for the school, including the construction of the Science Building, its manual training program, and brand new athletic field.
The Science Building, designed by E.W. Arnold, was later named West Hall. It was the second building to open at the Western State Normal School in 1915. The West Hall was used for physical and natural science classes. The last use for the building was in 2006, when the Geology Department used it for a core lab. The building was demolished in 2013.
1924 photo of the Western State Normal School marching band
The photo below, dated November 1, 1924, shows the Western State Normal School marching band performing on the day of a game with Oshkosh, Wisconsin. In the background the new men's gymnasium is under construction and the Science Building can be seen on Prospect Hill. (It should be noted that the name Western State Teachers College was not bestowed by the Michigan Legislature until 1927.)
The Barracks Building was built to house the local Student Army Training Corps. Preparing for duty in World War I, the young men trained and marched on the adjacent athletic fields. When the building was no longer needed for the corps, the Normal School reused it for Home Economics and Manual Arts Classes. It would remain a "temporary" classroom building until it was razed in 1948. (Manual arts and vocational classes were also taught in the Eames Mill.). The "annex", however, continued to be used for Industrial Education through the 1960s.
Bas-reliefs on East Campus
Many of the campus buildings constructed between 1938 and 1942 were ornamented with carved sandstone bas-relief sculptures. These buildings included the Manual Arts Building, Spindler Hall for Women, Vandercook Hall for Men and the Little Theatre (also known as The Theatre, on the corner of Oakland Dr. and Oliver St.). The Theatre, in addition to a large carving above the main entrance, boasted etched glass panels in the main entrance doors as well as several of the interior doors. The Theatre was completed in 1942 and renovated in 1996.
It is not known who designed any of the original bas-reliefs or etchings. Through the years many faculty have freely given time and talent in support of the institution, and one of them may have designed these sculptures. John Kemper, faculty from 1942 to 1970, is well-known for his graphic designs and murals, but the bas-reliefs pre-date his tenure.
In the early days of the Western State Normal School the curricula for what is today referred to as "Technology Education" was called Manual Training and Domestic Science. The names would change frequently over the years, to Industrial Arts, Manual Arts, Industrial Technology, Vocational Education and Vocational Arts; and to Domestic Economics, Domestic Arts, Household Arts and Home Economics. Manual Arts were also taught in the Barracks Building.
Training School Gardens
One advantage of the Prospect Hill location for the Western State Normal School and its Training School was the abundant land available for outdoor activities, such as playgrounds, gardens and nature studies. Many students used this valuable resource.
The Western Trolley, a two-track cable car system on East Campus, was installed in 1908. The Class of 1949 graduated the year the campus trolley ceased operations. At their fiftieth reunion, in 1999, it was decided to provide a class gift for the commemoration of the trolley. Graphics and text of the sign that was completed the following year, installed on the south side of East Hall.