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

Babcock Hall,   pp. 265-267

Page 265

~Fig. 1. Babcock Hall
after the 1990 addition.
[Del Brown photo,
~AP-8 1]
Babcock Hall was built in 1951 to replace the outmoded Hiram Smith Hall as the
home of the dairy department. It contains instructional space and an entire working
dairy plant. Babcock Hall was substantially enlarged in 1990.
A     s dairy Professor Howard C. Jackson was fond of pointing out in the 1940s, there was a time
L    when the University of Wisconsin had the finest dairy building in the world. But that time
I      was 1893, when Hiram Smith Hall was built. By 1945, Smith Hall was completely inadequate
to its task. The first difficulty was that it was too small. In a state that led the world in production of
Swiss cheese, the state university had no room for a Swiss cheese facility. Second and worse, Smith
Hall was nearly impossible to keep clean, its wood floors, plaster walls and wood furnishings simply
could not be sterilized to the standards of a modem dairy operation. The depression and cessation of
construction in the 1930s meant that the dairy department just did the best they could with the embar-
rassingly antiquated facilities they had. However the department, especially Professor Jackson kept
planning for the day when a new structure could be built. This vision and persistence was rewarded in
1945, when the state legislature, who had been kept continually aware of the disservice to the state's
dairy farmers, appropriated $8 million for postwar University construction. Significantly the only
restriction the legislature put on the appropriation was that $600,000 was for a dairy building. Profes-
sor Jackson who appears to have been principally responsible for the building planning, selected
Milwaukee architects Grassold and Johnson to develop plans. By January 1948, their plans for the
dairy building had been approved. '
At that time the project was still constrained by the $600,000 appropriation. In August of
1948, the state architect told the University's Albert Gallistel that he had asked Grassold and Johnson
about the estimated cost, and received the reply of $2.1 million, "this cost information is distressing".
The grim realities of the postwar building business were sinking in. The $600,000 that had seemed so
generous only four years earlier seemed like a sarcasm now. During 1949, the dairy department
discussed with the architects, the possibility of erecting only a part of the building. The 'T' shaped

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