Sherzer Hall


Building Name
Sherzer Hall
Named for Dr. William H. Sherzer, professor of geology and head of Department of Natural Sciences (1892-1932). According to legend, Dr. Sherzer sketched a plan for the new Natural Science Building on the back of an envelope based on the science buildings he saw when he studied in Germany. Dr. Lewis Henry Jones, president of the university 1903-1911, dreamed of expanding Michigan Normal College. He hoped to build not only a science building but also an auditorium and a new laboratory school. By the turn of the century, there were three other teacher training programs in the state and funding was becoming restricted. Jones only managed to finance the new science building. Original plans placed classrooms on the first floor and offices for the professors above. Plans of the building show that some of the second floor offices were connected to the classrooms below by small private staircases. These private staircases allowed the professors to avoid the crush of students in the hallways before class. Enrollment expanded rapidly at the turn of the century and overcrowding became a problem at Normal. Classes sometimes had more than 60 students and the halls were filled between classes. The building provided for the growing needs of the college. In 1922, the Natural Science Building was further updated when a 10-inch refractor telescope was installed on roof of building.
Namesake Biography
William Hittell Sherzer, born September 6, 1860 in Franklin, Ohio to Jacob Weinland Sherzer and Mary Firman Sherzer. Prof. Sherzer received his education from the University of Michigan, including his Ph.D. in 1901, he also completed graduate work at the University of Berlin from 1900-1901, and completed a special study at the Smithsonian Institution in anthropology, 1927-1928. Prof. Sherzer's teaching career began in the rural schools of Ohio after his graduation from high school. He was also the principal of Saginaw (West Side) High School, 1886-1889; principal and science teaching at Houghton High School in the fall of 1891, then returned to the University of Michigan to become an instructor in geology, 1891-1892. Sherzer became a professor natural science at Michigan State Normal College in 1892 where he remained until his death in 1932. During his time at M.S.N.C., Sherzer was also a research associate at the Natural Science Camp, Canadigua Lake, New York, and Chautauqua, New York as well as an assistant for the Michigan State Geological Survey, 1896-1913. He also completed field studies in the Canadian Rockies and a special investigation on the Mt. Kilauea eruptions in Hawaii, 1920-1921. William Sherzer died at his home on Bass Lake, July 17, 1932
Building Namesake
William Sherzer, Professor of Geology Head of Natural Sciences Department, 1892-1932
Year Constructed
Date Dedicated
Building Functions
Art Department and Rooftop Observatory
Natural Science Building
E.W. Arnold, Battle Creek, MI
Howind Construction, Jackson, MI
Original Cost
Architectural Style
Richardsonian Romanesque with Georgian Revival Details
Square Footage
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Item sets
Campus Buildings