Beal Botanical Laboratory 1880- Burned in 1890
"Was built in 1880 and stood on the bank of the brook, north of the botanic garden . The building was designed by Watkins & Arnold, and erected under their supervision. The contractors were Fuller and Wheeler, of Lansing. The building was situated on the west bank of the ravine, near the main drive and northwest of the greenhouse , to which it was connected by a foot bridge across the ravine. The site is the same as the one previously occupied for some years by the apiary. As seen from the west it was very conspicuous and added a great deal to the appearance of the grounds. Views from the upper story were among the finest at the College, and included the State Capitol and other portions of the city. It was two stories high, and was modified Gothic in Style, being provided with a rose window and two towers." [1]

1880 -

The buildings is situated on the west bank of the ravine, near the main drive and northwest of the green-house, to which it will be connected by a foot bridge across the ravine.”“It is build of wood with a foundation of brick and stone; two stories high, and is modified gothic style, being provided with a rose window and two towers. The extreme height of 66 feet, extreme length north and south 66 feet and extreme width of 46 feet.“On the first floor is a large recitation and work room 44x48 feet, fitted with cases and other conveniences. On the North is the teacher’s desk, raised two steps, and back of this are three blackboards, each nine feet long and hung on pulleys, to raise or lower as required. There are three rows of tables each 22 inches wide. There is a drawer for each student. There is a pump and sink in the southwest corner of the room. The ceiling is 13 feet from the floor and is supported without the need of any columns in the room. The windows are high and numerous enough to afford an abundance of light on the darkest days. The windows in the south end are made of ground glass. The room is finished in native wood without paint, and presents a cheerful appearance. In the northwest corner is a study which has doors leading to the hall and to the recitation room. In the northeast corner is a hall for entering the study, the laboratory and the museum upstairs. The lower rooms are heated with a number four Columbia furnace. The second story is intended, with the exception of a small work-room, exclusively for a museum of vegetable products. The ceiling of this room is nine feet high, ample for good exhibition cases. In the center is an open space in the ceiling 13x30 feet. From the floor through this opening it is 31 feet to the ceiling near the roof. As will be understood, the museum has a gallery all around it. The amount of space in this new museum room is ten times as great as that occupied by the general museum.“Nearly every one who sees the building regrets that it was not built of brick or veneered with brick. This can still be done, and would give the building a more substantial appearance, which is quite desirable. The amount appropriated for the building was $6,000, much to small a sum to make an ample fire proof building.” W.J. Beal [2]

“Late on Sunday Night, March 23, 1890, the Botanical Laboratory took fire somewhere in the upper story in the north-west part of the building, near the large chimney extending from the furnace in the cellar. The night was still and pleasant, and the fire seemed to make slow progress. Many of us believed that the hose from the water works was going to throw water and extinguish the fire, but it failed to do much good, and the building burned down. Several of the faculty and assistants, and many students did good service in removing nearly everything from the office and other rooms on the main floor of the building including the college and local herbarium of mounted plants, about 19,000 sheets, the microscopes, other apparatus, reports, nearly all of the books, a few small tools, part of a barrel of alcohol from the cellar, quite a number of forestry pictures on the walls of the second floor, and some valuable fragments, possibly one tenth part in value of the museum. In the store room in the north west corner of the upper story was the Wheeler herbarium of over 7,000 species and a set of 360 Canadian mosses, both recently purchased, some museum specimens, seeds belonging to the experiment station and miscellaneous articles, none of which were saved. Some camera lucidas and other accessories to the microscopes were lost or injured, the value of which it is yet are to compute.“The greatest loss to some extent irreparable, was that of the museum specimens, which have been slowly accumulating, after repeated and urgent solicitation from many sources, a few were purchased, but most of them were hunted don and brought to the college by one who has for the past seventeen years constantly been looking for something interesting and valuable to add to the collection.“The visitor could have no conception of the labor required to gather, prepare, label, catalogue, and arrange such a collection, and yet it was not half completed.“Fire sooner or later was to be expected in such a building, and is another warning to colleges, never to trust valuable museums and libraries to a tinder box.“The building stood in a good place and attracted much attention. It had been occupied just about 10 years.“A picture and description of the building appeared in the Botanical Gazette in 1885, when editors “wrote up” 12 of the leading botanical laboratories of this country and said “The botanical department of MAC rejoices in the most imposing building especially erected for botanical instruction in the country. The laboratory has long been noted for the observant and independent work of its students.” “Large numbers of letters have been received expressing deep regret at our loss. One says “Think of the great good it has done during the 10 years in which it was used.”“The Gardener’s Chronicle of England, April of this year, quoted an editorial from the American Garden for May, from which the following is taken. “This was the first building erected in this country for the express and sole purpose of a botanical laboratory. It was one of the handsomest buildings among the many of this famous institution, and its equipment was large and invaluable. The lower floor was devoted to a large class and microscope room, office, and herbarium cases. The second and third floors contained a very large and unique museum, especially rich in the instructive features of our native flora and general agriculture. Very large collections of native woods, in novel shapes and arrangement, were particularly prominent. His department was more than the ordinary exhibit of woods, for it comprised manufactured articles, samples of lumber and many things of direct economic value. The museum also contained one of the best collections of Indian Corn in existence. The museum had been a life (15 years) work of Dr. Beal, the professor of Botany.”“The large book which contains the entries of the museum specimens was saved.“The total number of entries of articles was 2,775, though in many instances there were duplicate specimens.Total loss The building cost over : $6,000Museum cases cost : $1,200Museum was reduced by the fire from 3,885 to 326: $3559Wheeler Herbarium : $600Other losses, aside from insurance on my own cuts and books : $130Total: $11,489 (at least)[3] Michigan board of Agriculture 1890. Pg’s 47-49Michigan board of Agriculture 1890. Pg’s 47-49

  1. ^ Beal, "A History of Michigan Agricultural College," Pg 270. Lansing Michigan, Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co. 1915
  2. ^ Michigan Board of Agriculture 1880 Pg's 46-50
  3. ^ .Michigan board of Agriculture 1890. Pg’s 47-49