Harris Hall was built in 1886 as a student center to "establish Christian teaching in the midst of a great secular university." Funds were raised from all over the country by Michigan Episcopal Bishop Samuel Harris. As a parish house for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, the building housed church offices, Sunday school, and social space, but it was largely devoted to the activities of the student Hobart Guild.
Students were encouraged to use the three parlors, reading room, dining room, kitchen, and billiard room. A bowling alley and gymnasium occupied the basement. The thousand-volume library was "free to all who keep good order." Endowed lectures and talks by national and local figures were held in a large assembly hall on the second floor. Harris Hall remained a student religious center well into the 20th century.
Harris Hall's popularity was challenged by competition from movies, automobiles, and other recreational choices. During World War II, St. Andrew's provided the building rent free to the USO as a recreation hall for servicemen (shown gathered around the piano at left). Student activities moved for a time to a large home known as Canterbury House on North Division across Catherine Street from the church.
The UM Band and Wind Instrument Department occupied Harris Hall from 1946 until 1974,
when Revelli Hall, a new band building on Hoover Street, was completed. (Conductor William Revelli on the steps of Harris Hall, at right). Sold to the Word of God Community and later rehabilitated for commercial use, Harris Hall underwent major restoration work after its acquisition in 2003 by Dahlmann Properties.
Sponsored by Friends of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Student Foundation (Canterbury House)