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Feldman, Jim / The buildings of the University of Wisconsin

Agriculture Hall,   pp. 96-97

Page 96

Fig. 1. Agriculture Hall, c.
1963. The octagonal library
can be seen protruding from
the rear of the building.
Visible in the upper left are
the King Hall greenhouses.
[series 8/5, GC 554]
Agriculture Hall was designed as the administrative and research home of the Col-
lege ofAgriculture. It was the birthplace of nearly all current disciplines of the
College, except dairying, horticulture, and agricultural physics. Begun in 1902, it
was occupied in the winter of 1903. The building is almost entirely unmodified, and
was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
t the turn of the century the college of agriculture was contained in only three buildings,
Agriculture Hall [now South Hall], Smith Hall , and King Hall. All the offices and most of
the laboratories were in South Hall. The attendance of the agricultural short course had risen
from 19 students in 1886 to 196 in 1901. The crowding was intense, and the faculty had given up all
space except the bare minimum for offices. Dean William Henry, an experienced and skilled lobbyist
began the campaign for a building for the college of agriculture. Mention had been made of such a
"projected building" as early as 1898, during the planning of the agricultural heating station. In the
summer of 1901 Henry and university architect J. T. W. Jennings began to make plans for the
necessary building, they visited similar facilities at a number of colleges in the east. Acting president
Birge placed the need for it" first among the neccessities of the university."'1 The need was so obvi-
ous that the battle was short. The legislature of 1901 acting on a request from Henry for $175,000
granted an appropriation of $150,000 for the construction of a central building for the college of
agriculture. It was understood at that time, that a later legislature would have to appropriate more
money to furnish the building; that is that the $150,000 was intended for the structure itself.
Jennings modified the plans to account for the drop in appropriation2, and the building con-
tract was let to T. C. McCarthy in October 1901, for $143,179. Construction began immediately, the

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