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

Babcock Hall,   pp. 265-267

Page 266

Fig. 2. Winter 1950, Babcock Hall under
construction, Stock Pavilion and horse
barn in background. Series 9/3, Babcock,
ns 556]
design with its relatively discrete functions between classroom (stem) and manufacturing (crossbar)
sections made this a reasonable approach. The $600,000 was not even enough to build half the
planned structure. They also revised the plans with an eye to reducing cost.2
Bids received by the regents in February 1949 showed that, even after cost reductions, the
"distressing" estimates had been surprisingly accurate, the building would cost about $2.4 million.
Labor costs, which were being negotiated by the American Federation of Labor were in such flux that
the regents asked bidders to extend the bids' validity until May 1, 1949 instead of March 8. The need
for a new dairy building was so acute that on April 18, 1949, governor Oscar Rennebohm ( who was
generally opposed to building during times when prices were so high) agreed to release $2.4 million
from the 1945 postwar building fund for the Dairy Building. The regents awarded contracts a week
later, the general construction contract went to J. H. Findorff & Son for $1.2 million. Total construc-
tion contracts (exclusive of equipment) let were for $1.897 million. The specialized equipment for the
building cost another $200,000.3
Groundbreaking took place in mid May 1949, and construction proceeded throughout the rest
of 1949, with the cornerstone ceremony in the fall. It had already been decided, by the faculty of the
College of Agriculture, to name the building after the inventor of the first reliable butterfat content
milk test, Stephen Moulton Babcock (1843-1931). The building went into use in the fall of 1951,
when the dairy department moved out of Hiram Smith Hall to the new Babcock Hall. The legislature
toured the new building on March 15, 195 1.4
The official dedication ceremony was held February 7, 1952. The ceremony included hymns
by the University choir, the presentation of the building by Governor Walter J. Kohler. More than
3000 people visited the building during the ensuing open house. After many years of neglect, the
University again had the finest dairy building in the world. It must also be mentioned that the Agricul-
tural Journalism, the new occupants of Smith Hall, got a wonderful facility also since their require-
ment for sterile conditions were less stringent.
The building was two stories over a basement of steel reinforced concrete with a flat roof,
sheathed in red brick. Because of the terrain, the basement was not exactly below grade, and was
referred to as the ground floor. The style was the new (in 1950) International style, the glass block
windows, aluminum window and door frames, and general streamlined look, point to the new archi-
tecture that would replace the old predominantly Renaissance revival style used on campus. In the
ground floor were many large and well equipped labs and storage for the industrial wing. The first

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