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

Wisconsin High School,   pp. 159-161


Page 161

from Henry Mall, was centrally located on the original design, and was not relocated to the new
center on the reduced plan, since when the planned completion took place, the entrance would then
become centralized as planned. The planned expansion never took place, and the entrance remained
offset for the life of the building.
The construction did not go entirely smoothly. The contractor suggested to architect Arthur
Peabody that some money could be saved by replacing certain iron girders with concrete. Peabody
agreed, made the changes on the drawings and presented them to the business manager H. C.
Bumpus, who signed them without close examination. The following afternoon the concrete beams
were poured, and that night the scaffolding gave way, collapsing the beams, and dumping the con-
crete into the basement. According to Peabody, Mr. Bumpus told him "You put one over on me. I did
not know that honest steel girders had been changed to concrete." The volatile Peabody offered to
quit but Van Hise talked to Bumpus and smoothed the episode over.4
The high school as built was a main section facing west, 44 feet by 90 feet three stories above
a raised basement. On the back of the main section was the auditorium and gymnasium portion. On
the south end of the main section was a wing 44 feet X 90 feet, three stories and an attic above a
raised basement. The construction was a steel framework and reinforced concrete floors, skinned
with buff vitreous brick (intended to harmonize with the color of the stone used in the old part of
campus to the east). The visible parts of the roof were covered with red tiles. The building was
occupied in September 1914, with a formal grand opening on April 1, 1915. The building contained
classrooms and offices, manual arts laboratories, shower rooms and gymnasium in the basement; in
the first and second stories were lecture rooms for the department of education. These lecture rooms
overlooked rooms to the right and left, enabling students to witness the actual work of teaching.5
The Wisconsin High School was very successful in nearly every respect. The enrollment in
1915 was 250, and generally stayed at high levels. This was due to several factors, chief among which
was the quality of education. The presence of University-level teachers and student teachers, coupled
with some forward-thinking experiments in education, provided a high school experience that is
remembered with pleasure by many graduates. The opportunity for local students (including the
children of many faculty members) to attend the same school for six years provided continuity for the
students and school alike.
As other methods were developed for student teaching, the importance of the Wisconsin High
School to the School of Education waned. Finally in 1962, in the midst of severe space shortages, the
instructional activities were merged with the old Madison Central High School, and the high school
was closed and remodelled (by Law, Law, Potter and Nystrom) for use as the University's School of
Journalism and the Library School.6 In 1972 it became the home of the School of Social Work and
parts of the Women's Physical Education Department.
Its incomplete state as an architectural design and the subdivision and repeated remodelling of
its interior as well as added space on campus (especially in Vilas Hall) made the building expendable
and its site was selected for the new Biotechnology Center, and the old Wisconsin High School
became the first of the Laird and Cret designed buildings on campus to be razed. It was demolished
in August of 1993 (see Fig. 2).
1) Regents Minutes, January 19, 1897.
2) Regent's Minutes, June 18, 1912.
3) Regents Minutes, April 16, 1913.
4) Peabody, Arthur: Short Resume of University Buildings, 1934, p. 22.
5) Regent's Report, 1913-1914, p. 342.
6) Regent's Minutes, December 7, 1962.


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