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HomescienceMichigan State discovers a 142-year-old observatory buried on campus

Michigan State discovers a 142-year-old observatory buried on campus


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EAST LANSING, Mich. – What started as a simple hammock installation has led to MSU workers Detection of more than a century-old part of the university’s history.

Employees of the school’s Department of Infrastructure Planning and Facilities were digging holes near student residence halls near West Circle Drive in June when they encountered an “impenetrable, hard surface underground,” MSU said in a statement Wednesday.

Workers at first thought they had discovered a large boulder or the foundation of an ancient building. Workers contacted MSU’s on-campus archeology program, and employees referred back to old maps to determine what workers had dug up to be the foundation of the university’s first observatory, which was constructed in 1881.

From left, Mac Stevens, Kelly Sullivan, Morgan Manuszak and campus archaeologist Benjamin Akey of the campus archeology program found near the Will House where workers digging a hole for a trapeze pole found the foundation of the school's first observatory built in 1881.

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The observatory was built by then-Professor Rolla Carpenter and is located behind the current Wills house. Carpenter graduated from Michigan Agricultural College in 1873 and taught mathematics, astronomy, and French and civil engineering, according to the statement. It was built in 1927 for the United States Bureau of Meteorology, but was donated to the university in the 1940s and named after H.

"Devoted student. Bacon advocate. Beer scholar. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot. Typical coffee enthusiast."

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