From the Archives: Cornerstones of the Campus

  • The American Bandmaster's Association Building served in various capacities, including box office and ice cream shop.

  • Giddings Hall, nicknamed the "Temple of Song," hosted vocal music classes for several decades.

  • A violinist practices in front of one of several stone studios built in 1946.

  • The Stone Library—named for its material, not for Clement Stone—still stands between Kresge and the Hildegarde Lewis Dance Building.

This edition of From the Archives was co-written by Byron Hanson and Interlochen Center for the Arts Archivist Leo Gillis.

A previous entry in this column discussed some of the changes in architecture as our campus has grown over the decades, including the inevitable loss of some buildings. Most of those lost structures were built of fieldstone, and were thus impossible to move. Examples include Giddings Hall of 1933, the Visitor’s Headquarters of 1936, and Harmony Hall of 1938, which served as the original headquarters of the Art School.

But some fieldstone structures such as the Fine Arts Building (which superseded Harmony Hall) survived out of sheer luck of their location, and their aesthetic continued to inform the look of many later buildings on campus; the Maddy Administration Building, the Bonisteel Library, the academic Rotundas, Giddings Concourse and the Scholarshop. Highlights of this look are also found on Kresge Auditorium, the Writing House, the DeRoy Center for Film Studies and most recently on our newest practice building and the stunning lakefront recreation area, both built in 2017. All of these modern buildings are of course not actually built of fieldstone, but they use them as a fascia to impart that rustic look of the northern Michigan woods and to bring continuity to our architecture.

The use of fieldstone began in the first decade of the Camp, most likely out of necessity and economy. Cheap, easy to build and not required to be winterized, fieldstone structures made their first appearance in the form of the fireproof music library and practice studios, including a large one for accordion.

The first studios

Thirteen small teaching studios were donated in the first decade of Camp and designated A through M, some of which were built of fieldstone with wooden roofs. Most of the original 13 studios have been demolished to make room for newer facilities, but five of them built from 1933-1938 remain as of 2018. The original buildings were scattered in groups across the campus, from A near the entrance to M west of the Bowl. They first appear on the 1938 map, which is the only time that they are designated for specific instruments, as follows: A – Oboe; B - Cello; C - Viola; D - Violin; E - Flute; F – Clarinet; G - Bassoon; H - Saxophone; I – Unidentified; J - Horn; K - Trombone; L - Trumpet; M – Tuba. Other than bass (possibly due to size) and Cor Anglais (possibly in Studio I), this distribution covers every typical instrument of the orchestra. There was also a fieldstone building for harps behind the Bowl in 1936, but it was not alphabetized.

The idea did not last, however, as maps from the following years give no specific designations for the studios. By 2000, most of the original studios were gone, leaving only a pair of the earlier wooden studios (F & J) and a small triangle of the later fieldstone huts (K, L, and M) straddling the intersection of the walkways to Intermediate Girls and Grunow. They are currently designated S (Studio) # 9, 11 and 13.

Another small fieldstone building that has seemingly vanished is the Tremaine Building of 1945. Designed for Theory and Composition, it was doomed by its perfect location on the lakefront, between other fieldstone structures: the 1939 Minnesota Building and the 1936 Stone Music Library (so-called not for Clement Stone, but because it was made out of stone). “Tremaine” didn’t completely vanish, though; it was assimilated into the foundation of the Kresge Assembly Hall in 1948. The adjacent fieldstone library also still survives, used most recently by the summer presentations staff.

The postwar building boom

1946 saw the construction of six more fieldstone buildings. A minor addition was a public bathroom near the Bowl, which still stands but is no longer in use. On the Girls side is the 16-room PB (Practice Building) #5, which, due to its placement, has amazingly survived the construction of both the Frohlich Building and the new music complex. Studio ‘N’ was also built in 1946 and is located near the K-L-M studio triangle; today it serves as S (Studio) #10.

A more substantial studio was the Burdick Building, donated by Ella B. Burdick and situated near Braeside and the younger girls beach. Dedicated August 25, 1946, it houses six small rooms around a central area. Although technically designated as PB #9, it is referred to as ‘Little Cabin’ by the Camp Life staff, who use it for recreation storage. Its twin in size and layout on the Boys side is also from 1946: the Junior Boys’ Music Building No. 1, donated by ‘Contributing Friends of National Music Camp.’ Located on the Duck Lake shore between the Intermediate Boys Headquarters and Lochaven, this currently serves as PB #17.

The only other fieldstone building on the Duck Lake side is PB #13, with 16 rooms for solo practice. Its complements on the Green Lake side are PB #1 & PB #4, with 14 and 16 rooms respectively; all three arrived with another wave of expansion in 1951, along with a new studio hut dedicated to the memory of Richard Keydel, a camper who died in a bicycle accident. This is the only studio hut that bears a unique ceramic artwork (designed by the camper’s sister Julia) over the doorway, with the text “To make Music | and Partake of | Nature’s Harmony.” These were the last of their kind to be built on the campus.

But arguably most impressive of all the buildings from 1946 is the Fine Arts Building, which is still a vital part of the campus. Designed by Maud Miller Hoffmaster, it was constructed via funds from the Michigan Federation of Women’s Clubs, and dedicated three days before the Burdick Building. Maud, who taught primarily painting at Camp from 1941 through 1948, designed the building, and was chairperson of the building committee. The structure may have used fieldstone because of difficulty obtaining building materials due to wartime restrictions.

During its heyday, aside from classes in painting, drawing and other art media, exhibits of student artwork were held throughout the summer, culminating in a major art show in the final two weeks of each season. Fine Arts was also the site of the Opening Convocation for Interlochen Arts Academy in September, 1962. The year-round demands of the new Art Department led to visual arts being moved to building C-7, where it resided until the Dow Center for Visual Arts was built in 2008. Meanwhile, Fine Arts become a primary site for recitals, rehearsals, and recreational activity at the Academy. In 2011 the loft and preparation/storage areas were removed, the original northeast front window was restored, and the floor area was increased for greater utility and use by musical ensembles.

The prototype: Apollo Hall

The last of the significant fieldstone buildings is Apollo Hall. Built in 1936 during the era when so many fieldstone buildings were erected, it was designed by Interlochen Bowl architect George M. McConkey. Apollo Hall has the most varied history of all the buildings mentioned so far. It was a gift of the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company at a cost of $700. Originally intended for accordion instruction, it also served as a rehearsal space for the saxophone section of the band. It later housed the college library. In 1954, it became a listening library, with “17 high fidelity phonographs with earphones” and numerous 78s and LP records. In 1966 it was repurposed to become the new Alumni Hospitality Center and occasional meeting place for other groups. It continues to serve the Alumni Engagement team as a welcome center where alumni can register, rest and examine some of our published materials and mementos, past and current. And they can do so in the oldest functioning fieldstone building on our campus. Apollo Hall (and its long-gone twin Giddings Hall), began the aesthetic of fieldstone buildings that still informs the look of our campus today.