The University Record, February 18, 2002

Renovation of presidential residence approved by regents

By Laurel Thomas Gnagey

The President’s House in 1890 (Photo courtesy of Bentley Historical Library)
The Board of Regents approved a plan at its last meeting to renovate the historic presidential residence. The house is one of the four original homes constructed in 1840 as dwellings for professors. The residence has received basic maintenance over the years, but it has not undergone a major renovation to its infrastructure since 1997.

Although the house continues to be used for social events and special University guests, Interim President B. Joseph White lives in his own home, making this an ideal time for the renovation, says Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Robert Kasdin. “The plan approved by Regents is in keeping with our ongoing efforts to maintain the infrastructure of University facilities,” says Kasdin.

Work on the infrastructure of the building will include driveway and window replacement, added attic insulation, foundation repairs, upgraded plumbing, heating and air conditioning, asbestos removal, electrical work and lighting upgrades. The cost of the renovation is estimated at $975,000.

“I think we need to do what’s necessary to keep this jewel polished,” said Regent Laurence Deitch in making the motion for the infrastructure work. An important consideration in renovating the home will be preservation of its historic integrity.

In addition to serving as the U-M president’s residence, the home is the host site for visiting national and international dignitaries. It often is used by the president to entertain donors, gather together members of the campus community and host other official functions.

Facts on the President’s House

  • It was built as a 4,800 square foot home in 1840

  • The home originally was used as a dwelling for University professors

  • After four additions in 1864, 1891, 1920 and 1933, it now has 14,227 square feet

  • Since 1852, when Henry Tappan was the first president to move in, it has been home to all but one of the University’s presidents—10 of them in all

  • It is the only original structure remaining on the Ann Arbor campus, earning it a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970

  • The home underwent historic preservation in 1990, under the direction of U-M first lady Anne Duderstadt

  • The seven original fireplaces, used originally to heat the home, remain intact, as do the Doric entry portico and the brackets under the eaves on the exterior of the home