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Charles Grawn Hall


Opened April 1915
Cost: $100,000

Grawn Hall is the oldest existing building on the campus of Central Michigan University. Designed by E. W. Arnold of Battle Creek, it was dedicated as the Science and Agriculture Building on July 8, 1915 by Governor Woodbridge Ferris. When it first opened, the building housed the departments of Agriculture, Psychology, Geography, Biology, Physics, and Chemistry. Until 1965, it housed the various science and mathematics disciplines. During this time, a small greenhouse stood on the present site of the Applied Business Studies Complex attached to the building. It also housed the University's print shop for some time. The building was dedicated in honor of Charles T. Grawn on June 15, 1940.

The building narrowly escaped destruction by fire on two occasions. The first happened January 31, 1933, when the memory of the Old Main fire was still fresh in the minds of the administration. The other, which did $25,000 in damage on March 10, 1954, started in a chemistry laboratory.

Grawn construction crew.jpgWith the completion of a new science building (Brooks Hall) in 1964, the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Geology, and Physics all planned to move out of their homes in Grawn Hall. The University announced plans for a remodeling of Grawn, which would be used temporarily as a general classroom building before conversion into the new home for the School of Business Administration. Governor Romney initially requested $10,000 for the project, but the state legislature later agreed to increase funding to $600,000 for the renovation. An additional $250,000 was later added to this total. The project would include improvements to the existing building and an addition to the south end of the structure. The addition was designed by Roger Allen and Associates of Grand Rapids and the construction contract was awarded to the Collinson Construction Company of Midland. Construction began in early 1966 and, although work was delayed by a carpenters' union strike that summer, the project was complete and Grawn was ready for occupancy by fall 1966.

In 1986, the University announced plans for an Applied Business Studies Complex, the second major renovation of Grawn Hall. University officials raised the estimated $1.7 million through private donations from local and national businesses. The addition was designed by Wakely Associates of Mt. Pleasant and the construction contract was awarded to Wolgast Construction of Freeland. Groundbreaking took place on June 4, 1988. In the fall of that year, the University agreed to add an additional $400,000 to the project, raising the total cost to $2.1 million. Even though crews faced some difficulties incorporating the new addition into the oldest building on campus, the Applied Business Studies Complex opened on time in June 1989. The two-story, 20,000 square foot addition housed the Robert M. Perry School of Banking, Office and Management Information Systems, and the Materials Resource Center. There was also a large microcomputer lab available for student use. The University named several areas of the new addition after donors to the project, including the Dow Chemical Center for Creative Business Studies, the Whirlpool Behavioral Studies Laboratory, the Kmart Retail Center, and the Kysor Dispute Resolution Center.

picgrawn.jpgThe building was named for Charles T. Grawn, the son of Swedish parents, who was born in Salem in Washtenaw County, Michigan, on October 4, 1857. Starting his educational career at eighteen years of age as a rural teacher in Kent County, where he taught for one year, he entered the Michigan State Normal at Ypsilanti, graduating from the Classical course in 1880. After serving as superintendent of public schools in Plymouth, he accepted a similar position in Traverse City, where he remained for fifteen years, leaving in 1899 to become superintendent of the training school at the State Normal College. A year later, when the position of principal at Central became vacant with the resignation of Charles McKenny, the State Board of Education appointed Grawn to the post. In 1908, his title changed from principal to president. He remained the head of Central until 1918, when he resigned in order to devote his full time to business interests.