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Feldman, Jim / The buildings of the University of Wisconsin

Hiram Smith Hall,   pp. 66-68

Page 66

Fig. 1. Smith Hall in
1893. [9/3 Hiram
Smith Hall folderjf-
Hiram Smith Hall was built in a record seven months in the winter of 1890-91, with a
state appropriation of $32, 000. It was the first permanent diary instruction building
in the western hemisphere. Added to in 1901 and 1909, it served as the University
dairy building until 1951 when Babcock Hall opened. It has since been used mainly
as the home ofAgricultural Journalism. Hiram Smith Hall was added to the National
Register of Historic Places in 1985.
T       e building of Hiram Smith Hall was a triumph for the University in several respects. First it
 was the first building project funded by the state legislature since the debacle of Science Hall in
L1888 (see appendix A). The legislature was persuaded partly by the lobbying skills of Dean
William Henry, and partly by the arguments of state farmer, legislator and regent Hiram Smith.
Second the building was planned and built with remarkable dispatch, staying within severely con-
strained budgets and time schedules. Thirdly it marked the beginning of a large and successful expan-
sion of the physical plant of the school of agriculture under Dean Henry, which lasted fifteen years.
In June of 1890 Stephen Babcock developed in his lab at Agriculture Hall [South Hall], a
simple and foolproof test for the butterfat content of milk. Throughout the 1890 word of the test
spread through Wisconsin. By the time the dairy short course opened in January of 1891, enrollment
had risen from two (in January of 1890) to seventy-five. The state's dairymen were convinced that the
scientific education available at the university was of value to them. The crowding in the old dairy

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