WMU Campus History

Original 1904 Planting Plan
for the Western State Normal School

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Title Block to the Olmsted Brothers' landscape plan

bullet The Kalamazoo community offered twenty-four possible sites for the new Western State Normal School.  The Michigan State Board of Education narrowed the list down to four sites, and then hired the nationally-known landscape firm, Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts, to recommend the final selection.  Upon the firm's written recommendation the Board selected Prospect Hill on November 27, 1903.

bullet The architect selected for the project, E. W. Arnold, designed the first building for the Western State Normal School - the Administration Building - and drafted a plan for a quadrangle of potential future buildings.   The Olmsted Brothers used the Arnold quadrangle plan as the basis for a landscape, or planting, plan for the entire 20-acre site.

Part of the plan is reproduced here.  Pass pointer over plan to view comments.
1904 plan
Click to view enlargment

Comparison of 1904 Plan with 1925 Campus Map Oakland Drive Bellevue Place Davis Street Walnut Street Proposed academic quadrangle

bullet The Planting Plan includes a comprehensive list of plants sorted into twenty-seven categories or groups, with each category's location clearly labelled.  It included terraced lawns and several elaborate sets of stairs leading down to Davis Street and to Oakland Drive.

bullet The original Olmsted Brothers Planting Plan was printed on linen cloth, and measured approximately 85 inches wide and 30 inches high.  The delicate 100 year-old document was reproduced by photocopying it in sections and then piecing the sections together.

Original Administration Building


Planning Division of Facilities Management; Mail #5313
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Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5313 USA
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