January 23, 2017
Old school: U-M in History
A 1907 view of the University Michigan campus painted by Richard Rummell, an artist well-known for his "bird's-eye" landscapes. View a larger version. (Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library)
In 1855, U-M President Henry Philip Tappan invited landscape painter Jasper Cropsey to paint the scene where he dreamt of building a "true university, a new American center of science and culture." That painting depicted a rural space, with rolling pastures, cows and sheep. It showed white buildings in the distance, a horse-drawn wagon rolling along a dirt road. Just 50 years later, another painting illuminating the same land could not have been any more different. Richard Rummell's 1907 illustration was filled with multistoried buildings, academic towers and the bustling life and density of a little city. But the university did not just grow in size between those two paintings; it became "a new kind of enterprise entirely, embracing a new conception of the world."
— Adapted from "Michigan in the Making," by Francis X. Blouin Jr. and James Tobin