Eastern Michigan University was founded in 1849 as the Michigan State Normal School, and from the beginning there were religious activities but it was not until 1897 that those religious organizations found a home on campus, this home was Starkweather Hall. Due to the generous donation of Mary Ann Starkweather (for which the hall is named), religious organizations had a location to conduct meetings, lecture series, and coffee hours. By 1899 one of the major organizations, the Student Christian Association, split to the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). Both organizations, but specifically the Young Women’s Christian Association saw continued success for many years.
During the early 1900s there was an increase of religious organizations on campus and their popularity led to Starkweather Hall’s status as a social center for students. In 1960, an Office of Religious Affairs was created, with Charles E. Minneman as Director. However, the office was only open for 17 years, before being removed from Starkweather and closed. Religious organizations continued to be mentioned in Eastern’s catalog following the closure but the activity would never again be concentrated in one building, solely dedicated to religious study.