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

Home management house,   pp. 244-245

Page 245

Formal plans and specifications were drawn up by the state architect, Roger Kirchhoff, in the spring
of 1940.
Unfortunately for these plans, when bids were opened on June 28, 1940, all were far above
the amount available for building and all were rejected. There were three principal reasons for the
overruns: first, the specification of Madison sandstone for the exterior, which had all but run out in
the old quarries on the west side of Madison, second, the concrete floors, roof construction, and
hollow tile walls, needed to make the building fireproof, and third the paucity of almost all building
materials in Madison. By respecifying the exterior in brick, and proposing alternate materials to the
bidding builders the cost was lowered considerably. The new plans were put out for bids in July 1940,
but again the bids were too high for the funds donated. It was clear that the project was going to cost
about $32,000 as envisioned by Christensen and Zuill, and not the $20,000 available.
In August 1940, the Wisconsin Utilities Association offered an additional $12,500 for con-
struction and furnishing the home management house. This bonus removed all difficulties from the
project. The general construction contract was awarded to the Fritz company for $20,988. The work
was to be finished by January 1, 1941 (later extended to March 17, 1941). With utilities and subcon-
tracts the total contracted cost was $33,900. The $1400 above the donation was made up by the
physical plant budget. Work began on the building on September 23, 1940. During construction the
project ran into small difficulties with the Industrial Commission, due to the commission's insistence
that the building was a dormitory, and requiring multiple exits on that basis. The changes were minor,
and Kirchhoff made them rather than pursue the issue. Delays were minor and completion was about
two months late.
The home management house was opened for examination on June 21, 1941.3 It was a two
story colonial revival, of light brick, with stone trim, an asphalt shingled hipped roof, enclosing about
3700 square feet. There were four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a study, an instructors suite, kitchen,
a laundry, demonstration rooms, and sun porch. It was intended to accommodate an instructor and
eight students at a time, and was pressed into service immediately in the fall of 1941. Every senior in
home economics was required to spend two weeks in the house.
The house filled its role beautifully for twenty five years. Then in the middle 1960s when
anything that looked archaic was in peril, a home management house ceased to be of use, and after
the departmental name change from "Home Economics" to "Family Resource and Consumer Sci-
ence", the building was converted to office space.
1) Regent's Minutes, January 19-20, 1940; Christenson to Dykestra, January 19, 1940, Wisconsin Country Magazine,
February, 1940, October 1941, December 1942, November 1955; University Press Bulletin, January 26, 1940.
2) Christenson to Dykestra, January 19, 1940, ; Regent's papers, August 1940, January 19-20, 1940.
3) Wisconsin Alumni Magazine, July, 1941, p. 329, February 1941

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