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

Old McArdle laboratory,   pp. 238-239


Page 239

still agitating for more space for cancer research. Middleton obtained $108,000 in matching funds
from the federal PWA. The total projected cost of the building was $240,000.2
In late 1938, the regents had approved the financing of the cancer facility, by the University of
Wisconsin Building Corporation (UWBC), with PWA matching funds. During the fall and winter of
1938, Harold Rusch, selected by Dean Middleton, conferred with state architect Roger Kirchhoff
regarding the design of the building. They designed a four story building connected at the third and
fourth floors to the Service Memorial Building medical school. The first two floors of the new build-
ing would be occupied by the department of radiology, which was in very cramped quarters in the
basement of the Wisconsin general hospital. Even with the restriction of using only the third and
fourth floors, the cancer researchers were going from less than 1000 to 6500 square feet of space.3
The regents announced the selection of contractors January 17, 1939. The general contractor
was Maurice Schumaker for $143,985. Utilities and subcontracts brought the contracted total to
$200,188. The ground under the site was so poor ( a spring disrupted by the Service Memorial
Building next door was saturating the site) that the state engineer had to redesign the foundations and
the completion deadline was advanced from October 1939 to December 2, 1939.4
On March 1, 1940 the building was completed and named the McArdle Memorial Laboratory
for Cancer Research. Dr. Rusch says that dean Middleton promised that the first two floors, used by
radiology, would soon revert to the cancer researchers. Complete with equipment and furnishings the
cost of the building was $244,582. The finished building was 45 feet by 100 feet, basement and four
floors of brick with stone sheathing on the lower two floors (see Fig. 1). The stupendous growth of
some stock (Chicago Flexible Shaft Co., later the Sunbeam Corp.) in Mr. McArdle's estate made it
possible to immediately liquidate the debt incurred by the UWBC in its construction. This left the
building debt-free from its inception.5
The first ten years of the McArdle laboratory were marked with steady growth and the ongo-
ing frustration experienced by all early cancer research. In July, 1941, the state legislature appropri-
ated an annual sum of $10,000 to supplement the McArdle and Bowman funds for cancer research.
During the years of WW II, work at the cancer center went on, due in part to the IIA (essential to the
general health and welfare) draft classification of the principle researchers, Rusch and Potter.6
In 1947 dean Middleton first broached the idea of adding two floors to the top of McArdle to
house cardiovascular research. The huge remodelling project that transformed the Wisconsin General
Hospital, was the impetus that completely rebuilt the McArdle laboratory building as well. The
hospital additions (including the addition of two floors to McArdle) were carried out first. This work
was finished in 1953. Radiology moved to the new hospital, and the remodelling of the first two
floors of McArdie proceeded. The plans were done by July 1952, the work was begun January 1954,
and completed in January 1955. The new space was funded by the regents, the National Cancer
Institute, and the American Cancer Society. The total cost of the renovation and furnishing was about
$260,000. This remodelling destroyed any visual sense of the original building, since it has now been
engulfed on three sides by the hospital. This is of course true of most of the older buildings of the old
medical group.
After the construction of the new McArdle laboratory building in 1965, the McArdle name
over the Charter Street door was covered by a sign reading 420 Charter Street. The building in 1993
houses parts of the medical school, including medical physics, and therapy offices.
1) Rusch Harold: Something Attempted Something Done, 1984, p. 46-7.
2) Ibid p. 48-50; Wisconsin Alumni Magazine, June 1935 p. 276.
3) Regent's Minutes, October 14, 1938. March 7-8, 1939.
4) Regent's Minutes, January 17-18, 1939, April 25, 1939.
5) Daily Cardinal, July 23, 1940 p. 6., November 2, 1940, p. 3.
6) Laws of Wisconsin 1939, chapter 408. Rusch, Harold, op cit.
239


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