Saturday, January 14, 2012

Retired in Ann Arbor: A window to the past at Clements Library

Last week, we decided to visit one of the hidden gems at the University:  Clements Library.

William Clements graduated from the University with a degree in engineering in the year of 1882, and proceeded to make his fortune by providing machinery to those building the Panama Canal.  He was an avid collector of original documents that illustrate several periods of American history, including the Colonial era.

In 1920, Clements offered his collection to the University, along with $190,000 to build the building where it could be housed.  The famous Detroit architect, Albert Kahn, designed the building in Italian Renaissance style.  The library opened in 1923, with the gift of Clements' collection of Americana.
Under construction in 1922

Today, the Clements Library is one of the most important sources of original documents in the nation, and is a famous resource available to serious researchers.

Clements Library today
The exhibits in the main hall are open to the general public from 1:00 to 4:45 Monday through Friday.  The current exhibit is "So Once Were We"  Death in Early America.  The original photographs and documents are very interesting, and occasionally a little creepy!  We took about 45 minutes to experience the exhibit, and then spent some more time soaking up the atmosphere in the beautiful room.

This could be the perfect place to write a letter that could change your life, plan your next adventure, or just be inspired by the invitation to step back into history, and see a part of the University as it appeared in the 1920's.

Forest Hill Cemetery and Clements' grave

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