The University Record, June 11, 1997

New Friends group celebrates, preserves Michigan League history

By Rebecca A. Doyle
News and Information Services

Somewhere in a time capsule box inside the cornerstone of the Michigan League may be a 68-year-old horned toad. The toad was sent by a Michigan senator to be included in the cornerstone box after rumors that a horned toad had come to life after being inside a Florida rock for 200 years.

Preserving this story and others like it is the reason for existence of the newly founded Friends of the Michigan League, which celebrated its beginning with a luncheon at the League May 1.

Women at the University of Michigan in the early 1920s had no place to gather, since they were not allowed in the Michigan Union. At first turned down when they asked for a place they could gather, they persisted and were granted permission and a portion of the University's land to build on by the Regents in 1921, provided they had the funds and were ready to build within five years.

Alumnae clubs across the country helped raise funds for the new building, selling everything from beads, baked goods, playing cards, napkins and doilies, face powder and cake mix. Many of the items sold to raise funds for the building and its furnishings are packed inside the cornerstone. Donations and membership sales boosted funds to the required $1 million, and on May 4, 1929, the League opened its doors.

The Michigan League houses offices and its rooms are much coveted for conferences and meetings, a function it shares with the Michigan Union, which opened its doors to unescorted women in the 1960s.

The Friends of the Michigan League aim to preserve the heritage and the history of the building, acqure artworks, conduct tours and design and maintain the gardens. Junius Beal, who served as Regent during the time the League was proposed, said that there was "no structure we may raise [that] can be of more importance to the University than the Women's Building."

This fall, the Friends will co-host an open house to highlight the renovations that recently have taken place. New members are always welcome. For more details, call Ginger Sissom, 647-7463.