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

Slichter Hall,   pp. 252-253

Page 253

time. With the additional costs of utilities, fees, and landscaping, the estimates came to $700,000.2
The regents authorized the Wisconsin University Building Corporation (WUBC), to borrow a
maximum of $750,000 from the state annuity board, the WUBC's usual source of funds, at 3%. This
money was to be used for the west addition to the Van Hise Dormitory, to be amortized in 28 years.
Tripp and Adams halls were used as collateral.
Ground was broken in the fall of 1946, in the hope that the dormitory could be finished in time
for the fall semester of 1947. This very aggressive schedule was nearly though not quite met. Severe
weather in the winter of 1946, the contractor's simultaneous work on University Houses, and post-
war material shortages caused minor slippage, all the while business manager A. W. Peterson nipping
at the contractor's heels. By November of 1947, after the job was supposed to be done, the house-
fellows and some residents were living in the old sheep barn, previously used as the short course
dorm, while the contractors finished up the first floor intended for use as the offices of the division of
residence halls, who were then located in Chadbourne Hall. The regents authorized another $50,000
for the project to cover material overruns.3
In November 1946, six weeks after his death, the regents voted to name the new dormitory
after Charles Sumner Slichter (1864-1946). Slichter joined the U.W. mathematics faculty in 1886,
became dean of the graduate school in 1920, and was deeply involved in the development of the
university dormitory system, serving as a pivotal member of the original housing committee. He is
widely credited with having originated the U.W. house-fellow system. An enduring interest of
Slichter's was the acquisition and hanging in each residence hall of a portrait of the person for whom
the house is named. He believed that the students would be aided and influenced by the effects of the
portraits. It is therefore especially appropriate that Slichter Hall, unique among university buildings,
bears in stone above the front entrance a carved likeness of its namesake.
The finished building was four stories and a basement, shaped like a '[' with the short wings
projecting to the east, of brick construction with concrete floors. The exterior sheathing was lannon
stone, the material first used in Liz Waters, and in the short course dorms. The classic Madison
sandstone last used in the Kronshage dorms was no longer available. The building was divided into
four houses, Bierman, Gavin, Goldberg, and Luedke, first through fourth floors respectively. These
were all university men who died in WW II. There were 50 double rooms, with interiors designed by
Leon Pescheret, the interior designer who had done the memorial union, and Liz Waters. The rooms
were identical, thereby eliminating the extra trouble of assigning more desirable comer rooms in the
older style dorms. Capacity was 200 students and four house fellows.4
In 1962 an addition was built to Slichter, which filled in the east area between the wings. This
one floor, flat roofed addition was designed by Graven, Kenney, and Iverson, Madison architects. It
contained additional office space for residence halls.5
Like all the lake-shore dormitories, Slichter hall is a highly desirable place to live and is
constantly filled. In 1952 in preparation for the demolition of old Chadbourne Hall, Slichter was
assigned as a hall for women students. As part of the Van Hise group it is without dining facilities,
students taking their board at the Van Hise (later Carson Gulley) commons.
1) A History of Housing at the University of Wisconsin, Teicher and Jenkins, 1987.
2) Regents Minutes, August 15, 1946, p. 11.
3) Daily Cardinal, November 26, 1947, p. 5, April 17, 1947, January 25, 1947, September 28, 1946, p. 1, November
26, 1947; Collinson to Peterson, February 21, 1947, Peterson to Collinson February 18, 1947, series 24/l/1 box 214,
Residence Halls-Construction folder; Wisconsin Alumni Magazine, May 1947, p. 12, November 1947, p. 5,
4) Burns to Schmelzer, May 15, 1947, series 24/1/1 box 214, Residence Halls-Construction folder; Regent's Minutes,
September 14, 1946, August 15, 1946, September 14, 1946, October 30, 1946, November 23, 1946, November 15,
1947, April 11, 1952.
5) Regent's Minutes, May 6, 1962; Peterson to Culbertson, April 9, 1962, Smith to Wendt, September 20, 1961, series
24/9/2 box 13.

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