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Feldman, Jim / The buildings of the University of Wisconsin

Stock Pavillion,   pp. 115-116

Page 116

input from Peabody, Van Hise and the university faculty. The size of the building was unusually large
for a stock pavilion and was decided by the university horse foreman, careening around the proposed
site in a fast gig, for the architects.2 The final plans were approved by the regents on April 29, 1908.
The estimated cost was $83,000 including steam tunnels to the site from the new central heating
plant. It was desired that the pavilion be ready for the Farmer's Course in February 1909.3 The
building contract was let June 18, 1908 for $69,464 to local and regular contractor T. C. McCarthy,
and the steam tunnel contract to the Mueller Co. of Milwaukee for $24,472. The contracts specified a
completion date for the building of June 15, 1909, a few months later than the regents had hoped.
The monthly reports of supervising architect Peabody show that by January 1909 the shell of
the building was almost entirely enclosed, and that by February the agricultural department was using
the building and interfering with the work. One dramatic use of the building before its completion was
the famous slaughter of the University dairy herd to prove the accuracy of the new bovine tuberculo-
sis test. The keys to the completed building were turned over to the dean of agriculture in July 1909,
only a month over schedule. By the time of the completion of the stock pavilion, Dean Henry had
retired and his place taken by Dean Russell, who is often given credit for the genesis of the building.
The completed building was 115 X 212 feet, two stories and an attic in height, though the
irregular massing of the structure makes it seem much larger. It was mainly occupied by the amphi-
theater, a two story, sawdust floored, 66 X 164 foot elliptical arena with fixed seating for 2,000
people, expandable with chairs to about 3500. Curtains enabled the space to be partitioned into
smaller areas for classes. Under the amphitheater seats were about 40 horse stalls, including veteri-
nary stalls. Offices, tack rooms, and operating rooms filled out the first floor. The second floor plan
had more offices and storage space, some of which was intended to become living quarters. The
amphitheater was large and convenient enough to be used as indoor recreational space for the agricul-
ture students, and was used for that purpose, including football games, with "shower baths and other
conveniences on the upper level. "4 The building is designed in a United States indigenous style using
elements from Medieval English and Tudor Revival styles. The foundation and first floor are red brick
with concrete trim. The upper stories are of yellow brick with applied concrete beams for a half-
timbered effect. The roof is covered with green tile, unusual on a UW building.
At the time of its completion, the stock pavilion was the largest gathering place in
Madison, and remained so until 1930 when the field house was built. The stock pavilion also had
unexpectedly fine acoustics. As such it quickly became the site of much more than animal shows and
animal husbandry classes. University president Glenn Frank once referred to the building as the
"cowlesium". Various sources list performances in the stock pavilion by: The U. S. Navy Band,
Paderewski, Galli-Curci, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Marion Anderson, Nelson Eddy, the Chicago and
London Symphonies, and speaking appearances by William Jennings Bryan, Theodore Roosevelt,
Harry Truman, and William Howard Taft.5
The structure of the stock pavilion is almost completely intact. The only alterations to the
building have been minor changes to the interior rooms. The draft horse built the Stock Pavilion and
it remains a useful part of the university even now when the words 'draft horse' conjure up a picture
of an era long gone.
1) Wisconsin Country Magazine, February 1954 p. 5, February 1937, p. 8, February 1949, p. 6; Nomination Papers
National Register of Historic Places, State Historical Society Historic Preservation Office; Communication from
Secretary of State Walter Houser to the Regents, Papers of the Regents, April 17, 1906.
2) Early History of Animal Husbandry and Related Departments, Gustav Bohstedt, 1973, p. 35.
3) Minutes of the Regents of the University of Wisconsin, February 18, 1908.
4) Report of the Director of the Wisconsin Experimental Station #25-26, p. 3. The showers and lockers were added in
5) Wisconsin Country Magazine, February, 1951, p. 8.

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