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The President's House was built in 1927 at a cost of $75,000 to accommodate the family of the first president of Marygrove College, Dr. George Hermann Derry. The 8,600 square foot Tudor Gothic house is situated to the west of the main north/south campus axis, facing south toward the west wing of the Liberal Arts Building. Its exterior walls are Bedford limestone (6,050 cubic feet) in a random ashlar pattern to match the Liberal Arts and Madame Cadillac buildings. A richly carved oak door with wrought iron reinforcements and a coach light reminiscent of English inns grace the entrance. Quarry tile is used for the vestibule floor, Faience tile for the wainscoting. A reception room off the vestibule is lined on one wall with oak bookcases. The main dining room and living room feature oak ceiling treatments and floors and Art Craft electric light fixtures. The main stairway is made of Art Craft iron balustrades topped with oak. The spacious living room contains a large fireplace; French doors open onto a terrace. There are seven bedrooms (two servants' rooms included) and four baths on the second floor. The third floor contains a 30' x 16' study, bedroom, bath, and hall. The study is walled by oak bookcases with shelving space for 5,000 volumes. The trim is oak, the floor Linotile. Casement windows are used throughout the building.
The house has been well maintained and is in very good condition. Interior changes, such as the addition of doors that were made in the 1960s to accommodate the building's use as a student residence, have been removed. Except for changes in interior furnishings, the building retains its 1927 appearance.
Hartman Hall (President's House) is significant in the history of American Catholic higher education because it served as the residence of the first lay president of a Catholic college in the United States. In 1927, in an appointment unprecedented in American Catholic College history, the IHM Sisters named as president of Marygrove College Dr. George Hermann Derry. Dr. Derry was an educator, scholar, philosopher, and lecturer with an international reputation, and he had been educated at the Catholic University of Paris. His previous experience included chairing the political science department at Bryn Mawr College and the philosophy department at Marquette University.
Mother Domitilla Donohue appointed Dr. Derry the first president of the new college because his philosophy of education matched the Congregation's own vision of scholarly excellence, service to the professions, and commitment to Catholic culture. In particular, the Congregation charged Dr. Derry with the task of building a curriculum that would enable the professional education of women, many of whom would be the first in their families to obtain a college degree.
The system of education that Dr. Derry devised--and the IHM faculty shaped--derived from a theory of education based on the liberal arts. The Marygrove Idea, as this philosophy came to be known to generations of alumnae, encouraged Marygrove women to develop personal power in themselves, to be driving forces in their chosen fields, to act consciously on their own values, and to be proficient in what Dr. Derry considered the seven liberal arts: the art of behavior before God; the art of behavior within society; the art of expression; the art of reasoning; the art of historical realization; the art of leisure, and the art of making a living. The test of a college, Dr. Derry believed, was what its graduates were and could do.
Dr. Derry's wife, Agnes Mann (Wellesley class of 1910), was a member of the family of Horace Mann, father of public education in the United States. The Derry family of five lived in the President's House during the ten years of Dr. Derry's tenure as president, 1927-1937. Their daughter died in the Coconut Grove fire in Boston, November 22, 1948.
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.