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Feldman, Jim / The buildings of the University of Wisconsin

Home economics,   pp. 156-158

Page 157

Fig. 2. The Home Economics
building c. 1960 after the west
wing was built. Looking
toward the northwest. [series
9/3 Home Economics, jf-43]
department would at first share quarters with the extension department, and suggested putting the
building between Lathrop and the chemistry building [now Chamberlin Hall] on University Avenue.
The logic was that if extension, which could be located anywhere, got its own building elsewhere,
home economics would expand into the extension's vacated space.
The extension department was also undergoing tremendous expansion. Although announced
in the catalogs for years, only the agriculture extension amounted to anything but sporadic lectures
held when called for by citizens. President Van Hise appointed Dr. Charles McCarthy to investigate
the situation, who found an enormous pent-up demand for quality correspondence work. As a result
of this investigation the regents and then the legislature in 1906-1907 began to allocate small sums to
support the extension. The success of the effort to energize the extension led the legislature to appro-
priate funds for an extension building. In the spring of 1911 the regents allocated $75,000 each for
home economics and extension buildings.2
After some thought and consultation, they decided to use the idea of Laird and Cret and
combine the needs of the two departments in one building. The regents then resolved "that the depart-
ments of home economics and University Extension be housed in a building to cost approximately
$115,000 and to be located east of Agriculture Hall and north of the Mall [Henry Mall]; same to be
constructed immediately; this estimate is for brick construction and includes equipment for both
departments.'3 The plans generated by Laird and Cret, were for a central section running east-west,
with a north-south wing on each end. Budget constraints forced the regents to reduce the initial
construction to the center section and the east wing; leaving the construction of the west wing for a
later date [see Fig. 1 ]. They had the architects provide a separate entrance for the Extension division.
The construction of the building turned out to be a star-crossed project. The contract for the
excavation and foundation was let to Madison Engineering and Construction Company on October
23, 1911 for $2114. In less than a month they defaulted on the contract. The regents turned to the
second lowest bidder, George Nelson of Madison, who signed the contract on November 24, 1911,
for $3350. Nelson began the job on November 27, 1911. In March of 1912, the regents awarded the
contract for the superstructure of the building to the lowest bidder, W. H. Grady and Co. for
$100,879, "provided it is found that these are responsible companies..."4 Someone didn't look very
hard. The regents declared Grady in default on the contract in May, 1913. In a statement dated
February 18, 1914 the university lists $102,191 in payments to Grady before he disappeared with the

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