Martha Cook Building

The Friendship Circle

By Marion Law, Director of Student Engagement and Alumnae Relations

International Tea 2017 was held in March and it drew hundreds of enthusiastic visitors to our home. Guests were welcomed and offered a rich experience in a campus community that often is mistakenly seen as a dark secret with accompanying myths. The reality is an architecturally beautiful building which we sometimes show off to visiting friends as our "stately home" and a community that projects warm friendliness.

Marion and Dave Law

A Bit of History: House Rules in U-M’s Centennial Era

By Catherine Walsh Davis BA’70, MM’76

In 1917, U-M celebrated its centennial, but the residence hall movement was in its nascence, with only Martha Cook, Helen Newberry, a few sororities, and League Houses (approved boarding houses) available to women. University-wide rules for women’s housing were still being developed, but those that existed were stringent by today’s standards and were meant to protect the reputations of the campus women.

Photo from 1917 MCB Annual

Our Venus at 100

By Kathy Graneggen Moberg BA ‘79

The statue of Venus knows no age, no nationality and no locality. I thought it was cosmopolitan, belonging to all ages, all nations and localities. Venus, you know, according to the Greeks, was born of the foam of the wave, and hence was a child of nature. Her statue a finished product of nature, touched by the hand of man, is, like the hills, al-ways new, however old. You would not dare to say that she is not as young now as she was in the days of Troy. You dare not.”

Venus photo

Change at MCB Part III: Afternoon Tea

If there has been one constant over MCB’s first 100 years, it is probably afternoon tea.  But even this iconic element has undergone changes in practice almost from day one.  It began as a daily routine when the Building opened and was meant to be a mechanism for teaching social skills to the young women of the Building.  While it may have done that too, the young women of the Building chose to make the affair their own and determined it would be a respite from the cares of the academic world and would have “a cozy atmosphere that promotes closer understanding and fellowship,” as it was put in the 1924 Annual.

Pouring tea

Our First Day at Martha Cook Building: From the 1919 Martha Cook Annual


Our First Day At Martha Cook Building

In the fall of 1915, something came to pass to make history at the University of Michigan, and no one realized it more than the Ann Arbor taxi drivers. All traffic seemed directed toward Martha Cook Building, the magnificent new residence hall for women. It was quite overwhelming to have the driver ring the bell and leave us scared Freshmen bag and baggage, facing the great edifice with its unknown promises.

Change at MCB Part II: Replacements and Upgrades

With the 100th anniversary approaching, the Martha Cook Building continues to look like the same dormitory York and Sawyer and the Hayden Company originally created and the one we all remember from our college days. The early 20th century era ambiance is intact, even as it meshes with 21st century student life. However, the beauty and functionality of MCB have continued to the present in part through careful and necessary changes which are a facet of good stewardship.

Drawing from MCB Annual:  The Cook Book, June 1916