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Feldman, Jim / The buildings of the University of Wisconsin

Old agronomy,   pp. 106-107

Page 106

Fig. 1. Old Agronomy c. 1910. [series 9/3, Agronomy, ns-3 10]
Old Agronomy was built in 1906, the first reinforced concrete structure on campus.
Agronomy moved out in 1930 and the building has since housed genetics, dairy
science and its current occupant Agricultural Journalism.
T he agronomy department was founded almost solely by the efforts of the un-degreed
Ransom Asa Moore in 1895 (under dean William Henry) when he began the practice of select-
ing strains of grain on a one acre experimental plot on the current site of the stock pavilion in
an attempt to produce a seed crop with superior yield and blight resistance. Moore was also ex-
tremely active in the recruitment of students for the agricultural short courses, scouring the state on
his bicycle convincing farm youths to enroll.1 By the first years of the 20th century the study of
agronomy had produced so many successes and attracted so many students that it had outgrown its
quarters in agriculture hall.
As early as 1904 the regents planned for an agronomy building, but did not follow through. In
1905 as part of the enormous building program driven by new president Charles Van Hise, plans were
drawn by new supervising architect Arthur Peabody for two relatively small buildings for the agricul-
ture campus, Agronomy and Agricultural Engineering. These were Peabody's first solo design
projects and were done in the Beaux Arts Style favored by the university's planning consultants Laird
and Cret. These buildings were the first to occupy the proposed mall linking Agriculture Hall with
University Avenue. Because the Agricultural College was physically a rather independent unit of the
university, the architecture did not require the classical and sandstone treatment given to the buildings
on the central campus. Peabody chose instead of cut stone a dark brown brick (which became stan-
dard for later buildings associated with the college of agriculture), and in order to meet the modem
requirements of fire protection the buildings were constructed with concrete floors and tile partition
walls. They were the first buildings on campus so constructed.2

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