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Van Wagoner House

Built: 1965 | Type: student residences

Van Wagoner House

Quick Facts

  • Ground-Breaking: late 1964
  • Building Dedication: April 14, 1966
  • Cost: approximately $850,000
  • Architect: Meathe, Kessler, and Associated, Inc.
  • Construction: A.Z. Shmina and Sons, Co.
  • Funding: Federal Housing and Home Finance Agency
  • Specifications: 43,350 sq. ft.; able to accommodate 200 students
  • Namesake: Murray D. Van Wagoner, Democratic Governor of Michigan, who was residing in Oakland County at the time. Van Wagoner, who graduated from the local Pontiac High School and received a degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan, was an active member of the State Highway Commission.


The fifth installment in Oakland University's series of dormitories, Van Wagoner House opened in Fall 1965. It underwent two possible name changes before its eventual naming after the former Democratic Governor of Michigan  ("Unnamed Dormitory" and the student-selected "Dorm Phyve" were the other possible choices).

Van Wagoner was the second six-story dormitory after Hill House, with some delay in construction. While Hill House was for women only, Van Wagoner was a men's dormitory. Each could house 200 students.

Over the years many stories happened in Van Wagoner House. Freshman Irwin Bruade was awarded the title of national number one inter-collegiate shower sitter in 1967, remaining seated in one of the stalls for an impressive 41 hours straight.

An early morning fire on October 25, 1973 erupted in the third floor student lounge, causing extensive building-wide smoke damage but no injuries to students or building personnel.

In 1979, an arsonist started repeated fires on the top floor of Van Wagoner.

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Photos courtesy of the Oakland University Archives.



Created by Mariela Hristova / Updated on May 24, 2019 by Mariela Hristova

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