President’s house to get accessibility, preservation, security updates

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The President’s Residence — the oldest building on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus — will undergo updates to address essential accessibility upgrades and enhance functionality, safety and security while preserving historical features.

The project, estimated at up to $15 million, was approved May 19 by the Board of Regents. Funding will come from the university’s reserves and will not use any tuition or taxpayer funding.

The work is expected to be completed by February 2023 and will become the home of the university’s 15th president, whom regents anticipate selecting this summer.

The President’s Residence not only serves as the personal residence of the president and family, but also hosts more than 70 events each year.

The President’s Residence is the oldest building on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus.
The President’s Residence is the oldest building on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus. (Photo by Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)

The house, which sits along South University Avenue across from the Law Quad, is the only surviving structure on the original 40-acre site known as the Diag.

The building is listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places, a program focused on protecting America’s historic and archeological resources worthy of preservation.

Built in 1840 at 4,800 square feet, the President’s Residence has had four significant additions between 1864 and 1933, increasing its size to 14,000 square feet.

The 5,100 square feet on the ground floor of the residence serves as a gathering place for the university community and is used to host a variety of events. These include open houses to welcome new students and student organizations, events honoring faculty members, special guests for commencement activities, and numerous informal meetings and gatherings.

An additional 5,200 square feet of private residential space is located on the second and third floors, and the floor plan has largely remained unchanged structurally for decades.

The university’s investments in the house over the past two decades have been underfunded, resulting in a significant accumulation of deferred maintenance and necessary updates.

The accessibility upgrades to the ground floor public areas include an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant bathroom, a rebuilt outdoor patio with ramp access from the ground-level, a new west entrance, new exterior doors, and an improved connection between the sunroom and the patio.

The upgrades will preserve historical features of the home, including the hardwood flooring, library with full-wall bookcases, moldings and other woodwork throughout the home and exterior.

Updates proposed to the private residential space include creating an open kitchen and dining space on the second floor to enhance functionality of the living space for residents.

Additional updates will address safety and security features with additional and updated fire suppression, fire detection and alarm, and security systems, as well as deferred maintenance that has accumulated over the past decade.

The scope of this project also includes the architectural, mechanical and electrical work necessary to accomplish these improvements. There will be no impact on parking from this project.

The U-M Department of Architecture, Engineering and Construction will design the project. The project is expected to provide an average of 57 on-site construction jobs.

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