A peek inside the President’s House renovations


When the university gets a new president, the official residence often undergoes changes as well. That is the case this summer as U-M prepares for the retirement of Mary Sue Coleman and the arrival of Mark Schlissel.

Crews have been working since April on a variety of repairs and renovations to the President’s House, 815 S. University Ave. It is the first major renovation to the building since 2002, when work was done before Coleman moved in.

With the home’s permanent furnishings temporarily in storage, most of the rooms in the three-story structure are a work in progress. Fixtures are draped with protective plastic, and the aroma of a fresh paint job is prevalent throughout.

The $1.7 million project includes several infrastructure upgrades — replacement of the fire detection, alarm and suppression systems, 25-year-old flat roof surfaces, and two 26-year-old heating, ventilation and air conditioning units — along with plaster repairs and painting inside and out.

The project also includes the renovation of three 1960s-vintage bathrooms and a small kitchenette on the second floor, installation of storm windows in the first-floor study, and wireless-access upgrades.

A $250,000 fund will allow for the purchase of furnishings that may be needed in the coming years.

Originally built in 1840 to house faculty when the university moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor, it has been the home to U-M presidents since 1852, and has been added to over the years.

The first floor of the 14,000-square-foot building is the public part of the building that serves as the site of various events and as a gathering place for the university community.

The upper floors, which include eight bedrooms, six bathrooms and a small kitchenette, comprise the private residence for the president and his or her family.

Recently, Henry Baier, associate vice president for facilities and operations, and Stephany Anderson, facilities coordinator in Architecture, Engineering and Construction, took media representatives and photographers on a tour of the home. The following photos provide a glimpse at some of the work being done.

Except for paper covering ground-floor windows, a view of the President’s House from South University Avenue gives little hint of the work going on inside.

The public rooms on the first floor have undergone repairs to the plaster and are receiving a new coat of paint.

The president’s study serves as an office for the construction crew, and also will receive new internal storm windows to boost energy efficiency without altering the exterior appearance of the current swing-out windows.

Many of the books in the President’s House library, along with the room’s chandelier, remain in place under protective plastic during plaster repairs and painting.

Like most other areas of the house, this stairway leading from the second floor to the third has been covered to protect carpet and wood surfaces while work continues.

On the second floor, three bathrooms in the private residence are being upgraded from their 1960s-era design. A small kitchenette also is being renovated.

Much of the equipment related to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and fire-suppression systems is located in the basement or the attic, which is shown here.

The rubber membrane that covers flat sections of the roof has been replaced.

The kitchen of the President’s House, while used by the official occupants, also is equipped to serve large events. From left are Henry Baier, associate vice president for facilities and operations; Dana Elger, public affairs and media relations representative; and Stephany Anderson, facilities coordinator in Architecture, Engineering and Construction.

This view from the house’s backyard shows a stone patio flanked by additions that extend back past either side of the original structure.



  1. John Tropman
    on July 9, 2014 at 3:25 am

    I can’t wait to have dinner there!
    John Tropman
    Professor of Social Work

  2. John Tropman
    on July 9, 2014 at 3:25 am

    I can’t wait to have dinner there!
    John Tropman
    Professor of Social Work

  3. mary crison
    on July 14, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    i think my children would love to tour someday. some already know that President Obama is an important person. now we have President Schlissel to chat about.
    mary c crison
    teaching assistant
    north campus children’s center

  4. LouAnn Dobbs
    on August 15, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Excellent work in restoring a treasure. What a lovely home!

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