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Feldman, Jim / The buildings of the University of Wisconsin
(1997)

Agricultural engineering,   pp. 108-109


Page 109

the agronomy building, and a red tile roof. The style is Georgian Revival with a pedimented architrave
and dentilated cornice and the large semicircular fanlights which make the building highly recogniz-
able in aerial photos.2
When the building opened the ground level was entirely occupied by the power and cement
laboratories. On the main floor were faculty offices lecture rooms, tool rooms, and shop and machin-
ery labs. The entire top floor was a single room, used for machinery display and study.3 Dean Russell
gave the cost of the building complete with equipment as nearly $50,000.4
The department of agricultural engineering was and is intended to teach students a general
knowledge of farm machinery, operation of farm implements and power plants, the planning and
construction of farm buildings, and research in the fields related to these subjects. The department
had already outgrown its early home in Agriculture Hall. In order to provide room for the inevitable
growth in this field of study, the building was made with expansion in mind, but because the growth
of the size of farm machinery was so great and because the room to the west was taken up in 1910 by
the new Horticulture building, the planned expansions never took place. The department stayed in this
building almost entirely until the 1960s when a new lab building was constructed on Elm Drive. The
decision (based on budgetary considerations) to scale back the new lab building leaves the department
split between the old and new buildings. Many historic events in the field took place here in the
original building, such as E. R. Jones' soil erosion and drainage studies, F. W. Duffee's 1927 develop-
ment of the first forage harvester, the Duffee dryer, used in seed corn production, and several signifi-
cant developments in concrete construction. In December 1907 the American Association of Agricul-
tural Engineers was founded in the building, an event commemorated by a brass plaque in the vesti-
bule of the building. For a period of about two years, the building was home to the newly created
department of Wildlife Management, under Aldo Leopold.5
In 1968, after the Agricultural Engineering laboratory building was erected the old building
was remodelled to provide faculty, and departmental offices at a cost of $183,000. The exterior of the
building is largely unaltered, and unusual (if not unique) among university buildings, it is still the
home of the department for which it was built. It has never been known by any name other than the
original "Agricultural Engineering" still in stone over the main entrance. Though visually overpow-
ered by the huge high-rise biochemistry addition and molecular biology buildings, it still anchors the
beautiful and graceful group of buildings on the west side of Henry Mall.6
1) Regents Papers, June 1, 1905, Regents Minutes, May 31, 1906.
2) Nomination papers for the National Register of Historic Places, Wisconsin State Historical Society Historic Preserva-
tion Office.
3) The Wisconsin Engineer, May 1913, p. 387.
4) Report of the Regents, 1908 p. 113.
5) Nomination papers for the National Register of Historic Places, Wisconsin State Historical Society Historic Preserva-
tion Office.
6) Agency Request for State Building Commission Action October 9, 1967, series 40/1/3-2 box 1, Regent's Minutes,
October 4, 1968 exhibit J.


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