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Old Main (The Normal)

Old Main

Opened: 1893
Destroyed by Fire: 1925
Cost: $10,000

Old Main, as it came to be called, was the first building constructed for Central Michigan Normal School. The $10,000 building was designed by Fred Hollister of Saginaw and construction began in 1892. The cornerstone was laid on November 15, 1892, which contained a document commemorating the establishment of this new school reading:

Office of Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute 
Mt. Pleasant, Mich. 
November 15, 1892 

The Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute opened September 13, 1892. Actual attendance on day of opening was thirty-eight of whom four were in the stenography course, ten in the Commercial course and twenty-two in the Normal courses. The actual attendance November 15, 1892 is eighty-nine in all departments.

The building opened in 1893. Significant remodeling was undertaken in 1899 and 1901, when east and west wings were added to the existing structure at a total cost of $61,000.

On December 7, 1925, a fire of unknown origin destroyed the building, along with its 30,000 volume library. Anna Barnard, head of the foreign language department, wrote of the fire:

I shall never forget the all-gone feeling I had inside me standing two or three hundred feet from the fiercely blazing structure, I all at once realized that I was looking straight through and seeing the woods beyond.


Surprisingly, the college managed to continue functioning despite the loss of its largest building. The library was relocated to the basement of the dormitory, and over the winter holiday, temporary buildings were constructed on Warriner Mall to house classes. Soon after the fire, special funds were made available by the state to the school and work was begun on a new "administration" building, today's Warriner Hall, which was built on the site of the Old Main.