The University Record, November 26, 1997
The Frieze Building, completed in 1907, is one of the academic facilities scheduled for renovations with capital outlay funding from the state. Photo by Bob Kalmbach
By Rebecca A. Doyle
The Cenotaph, equally well-known as the Professors' Monument, was dedicated last Friday as historical marker number three. The sculpture, a broken column that signifies a life cut short, cost the University $130.48 in 1846 when it was built by stonecutter William Peters.
The monument, which stands on the southeast side of the HatcherLibrary, was installed as a memorial to one of the University's earliest professors, Joseph Whiting, who died in July 1845. Plaques were added in his name and those of Douglass Houghton, Charles Fox and Samuel Denton last summer.
The original site of the monument and its earliest history has the Cenotaph created not only as a monument to Whiting, but also as the first marker in the University's cemetery, where they had planned to reburyhim if his family would agree. Plans for the cemetery never wererealized, however, and the monument has been moved five times in 1856,1869, 1884, 1890 and, in 1918, back to the east side of the GraduateLibrary--within 100 yards of where it began.
The Cenotaph stands not only as a monument to those who have died, but celebrates life by helping the University community remember the impact all four of these professors had on the University of Michigan.
Plaques at the base of the monument celebrate the lives of all four professors:
Whiting was one of the University's two faculty members in 1841 to greet the seven students enrolled at the U-M in Ann Arbor. He was professor of Greek and Latin languages, and died just before the graduation of the first class. He was 45 at the time of his death.
Houghton was the second man appointed to the U-M faculty, but nevertaught a class. He drowned during a storm on Lake Superior on October 13, 1845 on geological survey of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. He was a distinguished geologist whose collection of minerals was donated to the University after his death. He was 36 years of agewhen he died.
Fox, who was born in England, was an Episcopalian minister with an interest in agriculture. As editor of the Farmer's Companion, he gave a series oflectures at the U-M and then was named professor of agriculture. But before he could begin his fall teaching, he died in July 1854 at the age of 38.
Denton, the only one of the four who did not die prematurely for that era, was a member of the first Board of Regents, appointed for a three-year term by then-Gov. Stevens T. Mason in 1837. He was professor of pathology and of the theory and practice of medicine in 1850, one of the first professors in the Medical School. He is credited with developing the first medical diploma with the help of Abram Sager, a fellow medical professor. He died in August 1860 at the age of 57.