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Cowles House

Cowles House 

Alice B. Cowles House

Occupied by presidents or faculty members since the university opened in 1857, what is today known as Alice B. Cowles House is considered the oldest standing building on Michigan State University’s campus. Occupants of the original “farm cottage” have included the first president of the then-Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, Joseph R. Williams, and distinguished botanist William J. Beal.

Homes of faculty members and the president also served as gathering places when the institution was young, and that tradition continues to this day with Cowles House. It is the university’s most venerable and special venue for celebrating student, faculty and staff member achievements, hosting more than 100 events each year in addition to serving as the president’s residence.

Cowles House is available for use by MSU colleges, departments and units for university-sponsored functions. Learn more about the venue and its history below.


One of four homes built for MSU’s earliest administrators and faculty in an area known as Faculty Row, Cowles House occupies a location bounded by West Circle Drive in MSU’s “sacred space.” Learn more about the history of the house here.

Read the history

Staff and events

A professional staff is available to help schedule and produce special university events at Cowles House. Find more information and review our policies.

Schedule an event


View Cowles House on the MSU Interactive Map. Also available are printable PDF maps of campus as well as driving directions and visitor parking information.

View Campus Maps