Michael A. Stecker


University of Michigan's Detroit Observatory
1398 E. Ann Street
(at the corner of Ann and Observatory Streets)
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2051
click to enlarge
observatory photo edited from: http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/styles/x_large/public/201411/Detroit_Observatory_front_gate.jpg


About the Detroit Observatory
Built in 1854 the Detroit Observatory was the first scientific research facility at the University of Michigan and the oldest observatory of its type in the nation.  It was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1958 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit_Observatory

In 1852 after a speech promoting the university, President Henry Philip Tappan was approached by Detroit businessman Henry N. Walker, who with others from Detroit raised a total of $22,000 for building an astronomical observatory.  In 1853, land on Ann Street in Ann Arbor was obtained as the building site. Construction was completed in 1854, and the building was named the Detroit Observatory to recognize the benefactors who funded its construction. The building housed a 12⅝-inch (32 cm) Henry Fitz, Jr. refracting telescope which was the third largest telescope in the world when it was installed in 1857.  In 1868, a director's residence was added on the west end of the building. The residence was enlarged and improved in 1905-06, and another, larger wing containing academic and office space was added in 1908. The 1908 addition included a second dome and space for a new 37 1/2-inch reflecting telescope. The director's residence was demolished in 1954 to make way for the expansion of nearby Couzens Hall; the 1908 addition was demolished in 1976.  The astronomy department moved from the building in 1963, and the Detroit Observatory soon became derelict, and in the 1970s was threatened with complete demolition. However, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, and restored in 1997-98. In 2005, the Detroit Observatory became a division of the Bentley Historical Library.

The function of the Detroit Observatory on campus was taken over by the Angell Hall Observatory which was completed much later. The observatories of the University of Michigan include the Detroit Observatory (1854), the Angell Hall Observatory (1927), the Lamont-Hussey Observatory (formerly in South Africa, 1928) and the McMath-Hulbert Observatory at Lake Angelus, Michigan, 1930.


Detroit Observatory Directors

Franz Brünnow



James Craig Watson



Mark W. Harrington



Asaph Hall, Jr.



William J. Hussey



Ralph H. Curtiss



Heber D. Curtis



W. Carl Rufus


1942-1945 (acting)

A. D. Maxwell


1945-1946 (acting)

Leo Goldberg



Freeman D. Miller


1960-1961 (acting)

Orren C. Mohler



W. Albert Hiltner




Detroit Observatory Telescope
(12⅝-inch (32 cm) Henry Fitz, Jr. refracting telescope)
photo edited from: http://www.thomascwilmer.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/IMG_2595.jpg