MSU Union celebrates centennial anniversary of Excavation Week
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the MSU Union Excavation Week, the University Activities Board and iconic campus facility are hosting an Excavation Week Centennial Celebration from 2 to 4 p.m., Nov. 20, on the main floor, upper lounge.
The creation of union buildings on campuses around the U.S. was an exciting trend at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1905, Michigan State University – then the Michigan Agricultural College – developed plans for a union of its own and began a committee in charge of overseeing the project. Funds at the time, however, were scarce.
It wasn’t until 1915 when the concept of the MAC Union was revived. That graduating class pledged $5 from each student (about $152 based on today’s inflation), and with the help of the Alumni Association, plans for construction were developed. Construction of the building, however, would be brought to a halt due to World War I and was, for a time, later named the Memorial Union in honor of U.S. soldiers who had perished in service to the country.
Organized by Alumni Association Secretary Robert J. McCarthy and lasting five days, from Nov. 19-24, Excavation Week saw male students, faculty and community volunteers divvied up into teams of 30.
Less than two years later, the MAC Memorial Union opened Jun 12, 1925. The main entrance was off of faculty row (currently West Circle Drive), and the facility featured 11 dining rooms (some available to both men and women; some available only to men), 10 conference rooms, a two-story assembly hall, separate lounging rooms for men and women, a barbershop, a beauty salon, a billiards room (for men only), and a total of 16 guest rooms each with its own bathroom. It was truly the first of its kind in the nation.
Over the past 100 years since Excavation Week, what we now know as the MSU Union has undergone many changes and renovations to become the meeting space Spartans know and love today.
“Given that the MSU Union means so much to so many through the years, it’s important we acknowledge these important historical, landmark events,” said Cathy Fitzpatrick, MSU Union and Alumni Memorial Chapel director. “It’s exciting to think about as we continue to highlight these anniversaries, looking ahead to the official centennial of the building’s opening in 2025. Excavation Week is a big part of that story.”
The MSU Union acknowledged the centennial anniversary of the MAC Union Building Groundbreaking ceremony this past summer.
“Generations of MSU community members, alumni and visitors have gathered at the Union to experience plenty of events — many of those were UAB events too,” Fitzpatrick said. “We hear from alumni and community members from time to time about their experience with events in the MSU Union. So, it’s great to strengthen those bridges with the past so that our current students and community know how we came to be where we are.”
The MSU community will continue celebrating the MSU Union history as it approaches its 100th anniversary in the summer of 2025.
For more Excavation Week celebration events, visit sle.msu.edu.