Presidents House turned Honors Cottage

Karla DeBruin, Managing Editor

The first family to live in the President’s house was Homer Seerley and his family. Before the house was built the president and his family would live in an apartment in one of the buildings on campus. They often lived with other students on campus. This was important because the President could be right there for a crisis. In 1890 the Board paid $5,000 for the work and materials. 

In 1892 the building was finished, and the College Eyte gave a brief description on the cottage. The house included modern amenities such as a heating system combined with steam and hot air. Water came from the city system. There was a cistern to collect rainwater. The basement included a furnace room, vegetable room and a laundry. The first level included 2 parlors, a study, and a kitchen. The second floor included bedrooms, a bathroom, and a sewing room. There were porches on the east and south sides. 

In early 1908 the ‘old Cottage’ was converted into a hospital for college students. In 1909 the Seerley family moved into the new President’s House (the current one) and was then converted into a hospital and reopened Nov. 2, 1909. In 1926 a new direction would start by focusing on child study and parent education. The Cottage was turned into a nursery and was used as as site for a course called “Child Development.” In 1928 President Seerley retired after being the president for 42 years. At the time there was no formal retirement plan, so the Board decided to remodel the cottage and allow President Seerley and his wife to live out their retirement. They had lived there from 1890 to 1909, and enjoyed moving back. 

Many Presidents and Deans lived in the house including Martin J. Nelson and family, WIlliam C. Land and family. 

When Lang announced he would be stepping down, the house was open for other uses. In 1969 the Board of Regents authorized the idea of a “culture house.” So, in Feb. 1971, the Ethnic Minorities Cultural and Educational Center (EMCEC) opened in the cottage. 

While the EMCEC was in the cottage, they struggled with the building being too small, and having to need a lot of repairs. So in 2004, an addition was being added to the Maucker Union and a new Center for Multicultural Education had a bigger home. 

Today, the house is known as the Honors Cottage, the university’s honors program moved in.