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Feldman, Jim / The buildings of the University of Wisconsin

Old Forest Products laboratory,   pp. 113-114

Page 113

Fig. 1. The Forest
Products lab
shortly after
completion c.
1910. [series 9/5
Mining and
Constructed in 1909, this building originally housed the Forest Product Laboratory.
When Forest Products built a new lab in 1931 the building was taken over by
Engineering's department of Mining and Metallurgy. That name has been changed to
Material Science which is still in residence. The building was added to the National
Register of Historic Places in 1985.
n 1908 the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service laboratories were scattered in vari-
ous facilities in the eastern part of the country. The decision was made to establish a central
facility to encompass all their investigations into wood products. Letters were sent (in October
1908) to major universities asking if they would consider hosting such a facility. A competition
ensued in which the schools made continually escalating offers in an effort to obtain the federal
facility. Wisconsin decided to offer a site with a building costing $30,000 in addition to the costs of
heat, light and power.1 The competition was narrowed to three: Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota,
all schools with access to the forested areas of the upper Midwest and with strong engineering pro-
grams. In January of 1909 the U. S. Forest Service announced that Wisconsin had been chosen.
Michigan congressman McGlaughlin then raised the argument that Michigan had not properly under-
stood what was wanted and was now willing to make a larger appropriation for the laboratory than
the Wisconsin offer.2 In April the chief of the Forestry Service Gifford Pinchot, explained why
Wisconsin had been chosen:
The propositions of the three universities as to buildings were substantially equal ... I add that
among the factors considered, the following were necessarily given special weight: building
site, and equipment of power heat and light; courses in instruction in forestry, agriculture,

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