Canterbury House, Ann Arbor, Mich. Records

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Canterbury House, Ann Arbor, Mich. records

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger Canterbury House, Ann Arbor, Mich. records collection held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

Episcopal student chaplaincy established in 1945 as the Episcopal Student Foundation to minister to University of Michigan students. The activities of the ministry were centered in Canterbury House (various locations). The Canterbury House ministry functioned both as a coffee house and as a performance hall for folk and jazz artists. The record group divides into three series. History and background materials include histories, promotional materials, and newspaper articles. The Episcopal Student Foundation Board of Trustees series consists of minutes, financial records, correspondence, and files relating to building facilities. The Canterbury series documents non-administrative activities, including staffing, chaplain activities, and programs and performances sponsored. This series also includes photographs, sound recordings, and files relating to the Institute of Public Theology and the conferences sponsored by it.

Bishop Samuel Harris first proposed the idea for an Episcopal Student Church at the University of Michigan in 1885. This led to the building of Harris Hall, the creation of the Hobart Guild to manage the hall, and a series of Episcopal lectureships in Ann Arbor. Until 1935, the parish of St. Andrew's, the nearest Episcopal Church, oversaw the activities of the Hobart Guild and the Hall. In 1935, the Church began to employ a full time Counselor for Women's Students and in 1939, it employed a full time Chaplain. After the war, members of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, St. Andrew's Church and other lay members and clergy formed the Episcopal Student Foundation. This formation created a formal and separate vehicle for Episcopal student work at the University of Michigan. In the summer of 1946, the board hired its first full time Chaplain. In 1947, the Board bought a property at 218 North Division Street, directly across the street from St. Andrew's Church. This house became known as Canterbury House and Episcopal student ministry continued through the 1960s. In 1953, the ESF Board was given ownership of a portfolio of stocks called the Church-Nichols Trust. The presence of this Trust gave the Board a much larger and secure budget.

In 1967, Canterbury made the move to an old print shop on Maynard in downtown Ann Arbor. There it functioned as a campus ministry and coffee house during the day and converted to a concert hall on the weekends, attracting a great deal of attention and big-name performers like Odetta, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Gordon Lightfoot. The ministry represented a convergence of the turmoil of the time and the role of the traditional Church. After 1971, Canterbury moved back to 218 North Division and a more subdued ministry. In the 1970s, the ministry took an interest in the growing Gay and Lesbian movement and was the site for homosexual support groups. In 1978, hoping to invigorate the student body and the ministry as they had in the 60s, the House moved to a location on South State Street and became Canterbury Loft. Though the Loft was the site of a number of presentations and performances, it did not garner the same level of publicity and social effect as had the Coffee House. In 1984, Canterbury once again moved back to their old location across from St. Andrew's and was again called Canterbury House.

The chaplaincy of Virginia Peacock beginning in 1987 represented another big change for the house. As a female chaplain, Peacock took a special interest in women's issues, especially the role of women in the church. Peacock was also herself a PhD and was interested in bringing more academia to the House. In the 1990s, she helped found the Institute of Public Theology. When the Reverend Matthew Lawrence replaced Peacock in 1996, he took over the Institute and organized a number of events. The element that Lawrence helped invigorate was music coupled with worship. He began inviting musicians to accompany masses that eventually led to a highly successful Jazz Mass. However, during his tenure and especially after he left, the Institute seems to have faded from view. The focus of the Canterbury House since the departure of Chaplain Lawrence has been on sustaining the Jazz Mass and increasingly on fundraising. When choosing a new Chaplain in 2003, the main focus was on obtaining a chaplain skilled in fundraising.

Please note:

Copyright is held by the Regents of the University of Michigan.

Access to digitized sound recordings may be limited to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library, located on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan.

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