Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Madame Cadillac Hall

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Institution Name: Marygrove College
Original/Historic Place Name: Madame Cadillac Hall
Location on Campus: west side of north-south campus axis
Date(s) of Construction:
1925-1927original construction Oscar D. Bohlen D. A. Bohlen & Son
1928sculpture Daprato Statuary Company
Designer: Oscar D. Bohlen; D. A. Bohlen & Son (Indianapolis, IN); Daprato Statuary Company, Chicago (New York)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Gothic revival, Other (Glossary)
Significance: culture, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete piling
Walls: solid masonry faced on all exterior surfaces with Indiana Olithic Limestone
Roof: Vermont slate, copper flashing
ca. 1927chapel
ca. 1927residence hall
1927-present (2006)dining hall
1927-present (2006)other (ballroom, drawing room, dining room)
1927-present (2006)memorial site (statue of Madame Cadillac)
ca. 2004-present (2006)classrooms (seminar rooms)
ca. 2004-present (2006)faculty offices
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (staff offices)

Oscar D. Bohlen selected for the architectural style of Marygrove College "a free interpretation of the Tudor Gothic known as Collegiate Gothic." Mr. Bohlen noted that the same Tudor Gothic style governed the Madame Cadillac Building, but "a very definite note of the English Manor has been introduced. With its many dormers, quaint casement sash, and jutting bay windows, the building is tucked in between the green foliage of a beautiful grove and is delightfully situated from the standpoint of quiet comfort as well as accessibility to the scholastic campus. In its ornaments and general design the lines have been worked with more refinement."

Madame Cadillac Hall's overall dimensions are: 300 feet in width; 278 feet in depth; basement and four stories in height; floor area 130,300 square feet; contents 2,094,000 cubic feet.

Madame Cadillac Hall is entered by passing through a carved stone entrance vestibule. The main reception area features soft toned Faience tile, which extends in a vista through the central connecting corridor to the Rotunda featuring a Carrara marble statue of Madame Cadillac, the highly educated wife of the founder of Detroit. Selected English oak is used for the wainscoting of the main lobby, connecting corridor, and Rotunda. The Rotunda is designed with a simple groined ceiling and plain surfaces to emphasize the delicate carvings of the statue.

The second floor chapel for resident students replicates features of Sacred Heart Chapel in the Liberal Arts Building in terms of its stonework, windows, and marble altar, statues, and pedestals. The altar for the Madame Cadillac Chapel is cut from pure white Bianco Prima marble.

The six art glass windows in the Madame Cadillac Residence Hall are of a uniform non-pictorial ornamental design without narrative. They are distinguished by several medallions, including the Alpha and Omega and Paschal Lamb. The Episcopal crests of Detroit Bishops John S. Foley and Michael J. Gallagher, both of whom championed the IHM Congregation, comprise the medallions on two windows erected in their honor.

Alumnae Hall, the main social hall in the Madame Cadillac Building, occupies the entire south wing. The room, forty by one hundred fifty feet, was designed for dancing and large social affairs. It is marked by a plaster beamed ceiling and three bay windows, one with a raised platform to accommodate a small orchestra. The room's distinguishing feature is a large terra cotta fireplace. The hardwood floor is of maple. Denk Chapman Hall, with its intimate terra cotta fireplace, oak paneled wood walls, and carved beam ceiling, affords the college a medium-sized room for social gatherings. The Denk Chapman floor is of oak .

The Main Dining Hall reflects the English Manor House style that D. A. Bohlen & Son desired for the residence hall. The ceiling is very high and paneled with large wooden beams, heavily molded and carved. The entire south end of the room breaks out into a bay window, flooding the room with light. The leaded glass windows in three sides of the room, with their eighteen art glass medallions, add to the Manor effect. The medallions, many with water in the foreground or background, show a wide variety of scenes or emblems, ranging from sailboats, cottages, roses, tulips, poplar trees, peaches, cardinals, bluebirds, mountains, and picket fences to Greek temples, castles and fortresses, and freighters.

While Madame Cadillac Hall is well maintained--hardwood floors have been refinished, Alumnae Hall refurbished, the chapel (which had become a classroom) stripped of bookcases and tables in order to serve as a small recital hall, the terra cotta fireplaces cleaned--the 75-year old building requires the same replacement of plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems as does the Liberal Arts Building and Hartman Hall. The marble statues and altars also need a professional, deep cleaning.

Much of the social life of the College for 75 years has occurred in Madame Cadillac Hall, from the late night talks of resident students, to the mixers that occurred in Alumnae Hall with the boys from the University of Detroit (a mile east on McNichols), to the lectures, chamber music recitals, employee recognition ceremonies, Black Family Dinners, spirit days, and basketball games that occur today. Its beautifully finished public rooms continue to appeal to older and younger, traditional and non-traditional students and alumnae, and to the sororities, organizations, musical societies, wedding parties, preservation and historical societies, politicians, and professional organizations that consistently schedule their events in the space.


Johns, Barbara, comp. A Brief History and Architectural Guide. Detroit, MI: Marygrove College, 2002.

Master Plan. 2001. Marygrove College, Detroit, MI.

Rosalita, Sr. M. No Greater Service: The History of the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe, Michigan, 1845-1945. Detroit, MI: Marygrove College, 1948.

Souvenir Volume [Dedication of Marygrove College]. [Detroit, MI: Marygrove College], November 10, 1927.


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