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History and Traditions

Hutchins Hall, 1933 

This, the last of Cook’s gifts of buildings, is simpler than the rest of the Law Quad for two reasons.

Interior view of State Street entrance. 1934
Source: A Book of the law quadrangle

First, construction began shortly before Cook’s death, so he was less involved in making decisions and pushing the architects to do their best work, as he had for all the other buildings. There were difficulties in settling Cook’s estate which slowed the flow of money to the construction immediately after his death.

Second, the great depression had begun, and the value of Cook’s estate was falling. The University proceeded much more cautiously than Cook had in the booming 1920’s.

View from Hutchins Hall, 1934
Source: A Book of the law quadrangle

Cook wanted “the law school building” named after Harry Burns Hutchins, who had been Dean of the Law School from 1895-1910, and President of the University from 1910-1920. Hutchins was the person most responsible for Cook’s gift, first finding how successful Cook had been, and then nurturing what was often a difficult relationship for the next twenty years.

Classroom in Hutchins Hall 1934
Source: A Book of the law quadrangle

Hutchins Hall contains two floors of class and seminar rooms, and two floors of faculty offices, including those of the Law School administration. The classrooms were built with sound-proofing plaster and rubber tile floors, and with continuous desk tops in the form of an amphitheater.

When the building opened, the Michigan Law Review’s offices were on the fourth floor, as were, from the late 1950’s, the offices of the Institute of Continuing Legal Education. By the late 1980’s both had moved to new locations, and the Law School occupied all four floors.

Practice (Moot) Court Room, 1934
Source: A Book of the law quadrangle

Originally, Hutchins Hall also had a study room, 200 HH, which could seat 224 people and which held a small collection of primary legal materials. Over the years, the use of that room has changed: first the study hall was turned into a space for interviewing; later, a computer lab was added; and most recently the room has become a very popular student lounge, with email terminals and coffee service.

Hutchins Hall, like the other buildings, has inscriptions and symbolic stained glass designs in the windows. For example, at the intersection of the corridors high up on the wall appear three inscriptions, including “The life of the law has not been logic. It has been experience.” There are Latin inscriptions in colored glass in the first floor windows, which have small colored cartoons caricaturing various phases of the law.

A window cartoon, 1934
(View in Gallery)
Source: A Book of the law quadrangle



For more information on Hutchins Hall

*      List of Hutchins Hall cartoons and latin inscriptions Open in New Window

*    Hutchins Hall on Bentley Historical Library Website Open in New Window

*    Gallery of painted glass cartoons Open in New Window

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