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What, don’t you own a 150 year-old firehouse?

No?  Well, we do! 

Much like iPhones, and electric-powered cars, 150 year-old firehouses really are the thing to have around these days.  Turns out they come quite in handy, especially when they are kiddy corner from you.  Handy for what, you ask?  Why, for housing our Clinics, of course!


And in 1881:

This, my friends, is the start of a beautiful relationship; a relationship between a blogger, and a building.  Much like last summer I will be detailing the renovations we’re doing, this time turning an old firehouse into an office building fit for client meetings, piles of paperwork, case planning, trial preparation and all the other myriad tasks that go on in our Clinical offices.  We hope to move into the new space in December 2012.

So start joining me back here each week to learn more about our plans, our progress, and the history of the firehouse.  Will I discover any ghosts this time?  Well, I’d like to clarify that I really don’t believe in ghosts, unless it’s dark and I’m by myself.  But come on.  The building is 150 years old, and just look at that picture!  Of course I’m going to find ghosts.  In fact, I may have found one already.  You’ll have to come back next week to see him.  [Insert evil laugh here].

Click here for an article about the firehouse purchase.



The halls are lined with more artwork than ever these days, and you don’t even have to pay admittance to see it all!

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Okay, so maybe you’re paying tuition, which is far more than a day pass to the DIA, but if that’s the case at least you’re getting a J.D.  (The DIA doesn’t offer that, if you were wondering.)

Most of the art is portraits of the School’s deans, industry leaders, and judges.  My personal favorites are the sketches in the Student Service Center, which show Old English courts.  Gentlemen in white wigs and black robes, and ladies in Georgian style gowns?  Yes, please!  I know it’s not practical, but darn if it isn’t attractive.  Bring back 18th century English dress, sayeth I.

I saw the signs

As proof that we couldn’t have done these renovations without you, I bring you [enter dramatic music] the blog post about signs!  Not signs from heaven; literal signs.  Many of our room renovations were sponsored by our alumni and friends.  These signs are our way of remembering their contributions. 

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So thank you to everyone who gave to the renovation fund!  I have a couple more updates to show you about Dowling Hall’s renovations before I move on to chronicling our adventures in creating a new space for the Clinics.  Will I find hidden statues and ghosts there?  To be determined, my friends.

Swipe here, please

Well, you can now count UDM Law among the many well-secured, members-only hot spots on your list of the places you’d like to go.  Like the inside of a CIA building, backstage at a Sting concert, or the non-museum parts of the Vatican, you’re not getting in without an ID.  Okay, so you can also go to the Student Service Center for a guest pass, but the point stands: I feel pretty cool when I hold my ID over the swipe pad and hear that rewarding, “beep!”

This guy knows what I’m talking about:

The thrill!

[Sidenote: that student was more than willing to humor me when I asked for a picture of him swiping his card, and I didn’t even catch his name.  Apologies!]

The new security system, which requires an ID to get anywhere in the building past the Student Service Center, was activated this week.  In addition to making ID card holders feel like spies and celebrities, the system prevents unwanted visitors from entering the building.

Those of you without an ID need not worry!  The Law Library is accessible to the public, and if you want to get into the rest of the building all you have to do is stop in the Student Service Center for a guest pass.

Friday Update: Dowling Hall Renewed

Holy long post, Batman!  It’s mostly pictures though, so bear with me…

Can you believe this is our last post already?  This summer certainly flew by.  We completed so many projects so quickly that I had to keep a set of before & after pictures just to keep everything straight.  I’m going to share all of those with you today.  Keep in mind, there are still little tasks to complete all around the building.  You may notice some unfinished trim, incomplete paneling, and other things in these pictures, but never fear!  The construction workers are still around, though far fewer in number. 

I’m going to start with some pictures of projects that were completed last year.  (I just like to show them off.)  Here is the Cafeteria, looking rather outdated:

And updated:

The Atrium, which is a space that deserves good decorating:

And here’s another “after” shot from a different angle.  This one was taken after summer construction began, so you’ll have to forgive the clutter down on the floor there:

I have a few shots of the Library, where renovations took place in two phases.  Here’s the reference area before:

And after:

The Library circulation desk before:

And after:

And finally, the Library’s lower floor study area before:

And after:

Now let’s move on to the rest of the summer’s renovation projects!  Elsewhere on the first floor, we have the Main Entryway before construction:

And here it is after construction, including a view of the entrance to the new Student Service Center:

This is the hallway outside of the Atrium and room 143, before:

And after, prepped for the wainscoting to go up:

Meanwhile, inside room 143 we used to have a classroom:

And now we have a Bookstore, brought up from the basement:

Back over by the Jefferson/Faculty parking lot entrance you would have walked in to see this hallway, with the Registrar’s office and room 126:

Now that hallway is next to the Student Service Center, and it is a workspace rather than a pass-through for students and faculty:

The nearby Faculty Lounge once looked like an explosion of mauve:

It has been toned down quite a bit:


Then there are the stairs, which were always my favorite project:

You might need to sit down before you see this drastic change:

Here’s a close-up of the slats before:

And after:

Heading up to the second floor, here is a before shot of the hallway outside of the bathrooms:

And after, with some of the equipment the guys are using to rehaul our elevator:

And speaking of bathrooms, I may as well show these to you again:

And ta da!

Outside room 226, the hallways once looked like this:

Now they look like this, but we are still in progress here:

Inside room 226 we once had those sight-obstructing columns:

And now we have tiered seating, and a nearly-finished smart podium:

Here is Room 244, another large classroom, before renovations:

And after:

The nearby room 245 before:

And after:

Up on the third floor, the hallway outside the bathrooms, before:

And after:

Outside what was formerly room 330:

As part of our renovations, we renumbered most of the rooms to make more sense.  This one is now room 326:

Last but definitely not least, I’d like to highlight the creation of the new Student Service Center.  Early in Dowling Hall’s history, the room looked like this:

More recently, it was used as a large classroom:

And here is the end result of months of hard work:

I can’t say goodbye without regaling you with another interesting story of life here in Dowling Hall.  It seems my new office suite is haunted by a plant-hating ghost.  Just my luck, right?  I should have taken a picture, but in the absence of that, I’ll paint one for you with words:  It was early on a warm Michigan morning when I found the door to my new office suite was locked.  Alas!  What is a girl to do?  Thankfully, I could hear the sound of heels coming toward me from down the hall.  Amy Smith, our Director of Special Projects, offered to unlock the door for me.  Inserting her key, and swinging the door open, she suddenly let out a loud gasp.  Time stood still.  I peered over her shoulder to see what foul play had occurred, and there, on the carpeted floor, lay our new Jade tree.  The tree was mostly intact, but the plastic container didn’t fare so well, with a large crack running up the side.  Amy, moving quickly, checked the rest of the office suite for more damage, but it was just the plant.  Perhaps we could have let the episode go, but the plant had clearly been picked up and tossed toward the table on which it had rested.  So an angry ghost, or a suicidal plant?  Perhaps we’ll never know.   

Now, it is time for me to leave you.  I will say a temporary farewell, but you will hear from me again.  I’ll keep working to update these “after” pictures, so check back here now and again to see the latest.

We are working to raise money for a new space for the UDM Law clinics.  (If you’ve ever been in their offices, you will understand why this is necessary.)  Once that project begins, I hope to start a new blog, similar to this one.  So if you would like to support the Clinic fund (or the keep-Christina-blogging fund), contact our Assistant Dean for Development Ginger Hrtanek at (313)596-0274 or

Wordy* Wednesday

Here is something I know you have all been dying to see:

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It seemed fitting that our last Wednesday post would involve a bathroom in some way or another, right?  

Yes, you read that correctly.  This is our last Wednesday post here on our construction blog, Law Renew.  No, no.  Don’t cry.  We still have one more Friday post to take in together.  We all knew this would have to end eventually.  The truth is, this is something to celebrate!  We are down to the last tiny details of the renovations now, and there is not much more to show you.  (I can only make floor trim interesting  for so long, you know.  I’m not a miracle worker.) 

Come back here Friday for a run-down of everything we’ve done this summer, the little that is left to be done, and what opportunities there are this fall for you to come and see Dowling Hall restored to her former glory.

No really, come back on Friday. 

*I can’t lie to you anymore.

Room 226

I was gone on vacation all last week.  Can I just tell you how strange it is to pack up your desk in the cafeteria, and come back one week later to a completely different space?  There are students in the building now, too.  It all feels a little surreal. 

If you’re ready for a touch of the surreal, check out this slideshow of our work in classroom 226.  The podium needs some adjustment, and there are finishing touches to be made, but 226 hosted her first class this morning.  Lucky girl.  She’s really coming into her own:

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And as a little proof that our construction crew cannot possibly have gotten any sleep over the past five days, here’s a picture of the room on Wednesday:


compared to today:

Those guys are efficient, no?