New Deal Art and Architecture
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MSU Music Building, 1940 and 1956MSU Music Building, 1940 and 1956
Ralph R. Calder Architect and Associates

The hipped roof, limestone trim and simple design of the PWA-funded Music Building complement the Collegiate Gothic and other architectural styles of this historic section of campus. The large, metal-framed windows, however, allude to future stylistic developments. Samuel Cashwan, supervisor of the Michigan Sculpture Program for the WPA, designed the Art Deco limestone reliefs framing the southwest entrance. They depict images of dance and performance, such as children dancing to the beat of drums.


Sculpture, Three Musicians, ca. 1940


Sculpture, Three Musicians, ca. 1940
Samuel Cashwan (American, 1899 - 1988)
Southwest lawn of MSU Music Building

The Three Musicians is all that remains of a pair of large angular cast-concrete sculptural groupings that flanked the streamlined 1930s MSU Band Shell. The Cubist sculpture, which depicts a bass player, drummer, and saxophonist, was moved to its present site when the band shell was destroyed in 1959.



Band Shell, 1938
O.J. Munson

Designed by O. J. Munson and funded by the WPA/ FAP and a gift from the Class of 1937, the Band Shell was located where Bessey Hall now stands (see map). As captured in this 1954 photograph of a performance of the Michigan State College Band, the open-air stage was frequently used for musical performances as well as commencement ceremonies and pep rallies.

Band Shell, 1938

Image courtesy of the 2003 Sesquicentennial Calendar, Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections

Kresge Art Museum