Architectural Wonders

An Uncommon Stay


In 2024, a swanky new hotel will open in the lively college town of Ann Arbor, The Vanguard Hotel. Behind the intricately detailed “French Brasserie” bar and light-filled lobby, however, is a man whose efforts forever changed the path of the region, as well as the University of Michigan. A true vanguard himself, James Burrill Angell led the way in creating “an uncommon education for the common man.” 

Coming from the University of Vermont in 1871, new school president James B. Angell attended chapel at the University of Michigan, which was required every morning at universities in the United States at the time. Instead of a quiet time of reflection, a tradition had been created amongst students to throw food at each other (an interesting sort of prayer). While previous presidents had not had any luck in stopping the meal-throwing melee, the story goes that upon the second day of school chapel, Angell deliberately asked the students to stop throwing things at each other–and it stopped. The event would be only the first of James Angell’s revolutionary reshaping of the university. 

Angell would go on to be the longest-tenured president in the university’s history, leading the school all the way up to 1909. Under his guidance, the school’s faculty grew from 35 to 400, and women were allowed to attend the institution for the first time. An ardent believer that a college education should be open to everyone from the child of a farmer to one of a banker, the school became quite unlike most prestigious universities at that time, which were reserved for the elites. Due to his efforts, the University of Michigan continues to be one of the national leaders in state education, with students coming from far and wide, and a diverse array of backgrounds. 

In the spirit of the reputable Angell, Vanguard Hotel hopes to beckon a new era in Ann Arbor hospitality. With expertly designed interiors by the national firm DLR Group, this clean-cut accommodation promises to provide an uncommon stay for common Michiganders or adventurers alike.

Written By: Seamus McMahon

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