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Old Science Hall

Rear view of Science Hall-UW Madison, 1884, after the fire

Science Hall, 1884, after the fire

Science Hall being demolished, 1885

When the first Science Hall was destroyed by fire on December 1, 1884, priceless scientific collections were lost, including much of Increase Lapham's life work.

"It may be interesting to the people of Wisconsin to hear what they have lost.

This collection was begun by Dr. Lapham when a mere boy at work with his father of the locks at Lockport, N.Y. It consisted of a cabinet containing fine collections of fossils, minerals, shells, meteorites and Indian antiquities...10,000 in all, besides duplicates for exchange; an herbarium of 24,000 specimens, and a library of about 1,500 books pamphlets and maps. Among the books were many rare volumes not to be found anywhere else. The most active period of Dr. Lapham's collecting and exchanging was between 1830 and 1855. During this interval he made a very complete set of the plants of Wisconsin.

His earlier correspondence included nearly every American botanist and a large number of foreign ones."

from the Milwaukee Evening Wisconsin   December 15, 1884