From 1852 to the present, the University of Michigan has operated a number of observatories (some in Ann Arbor and others in various parts of the world including South Africa and Chile). For most of that history amateurs have played an important role in the development of these observatories. Up until 1948, most of the money to buy observatory equipment came from private donations (often businessmen who had an interest in astronomy). In particular, the McMath-Hulbert Observatory was founded by two businessman and a judge.
For more information, follow these links: