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A tour of UW-Madison’s historic campus

We take note of the University of Wisconsin’s beautiful buildings.

The exterior of Bascom Hall on the University of Wisconsin campus.jpg

Bascom Hall was built in 1857. | Photo by 608today

The UW-Madison campus is a great one. Since the school’s founding in 1848 its greatness has been built upon time and again.

Interested in a self-guided walking tour? Here are some of the school’s most iconic buildings:”:

Exterior of an old heating plant on the the UW-Madison campus.jpg

The building was originally the college of agriculture’s heating plant. | Photo by 608today

Agricultural Bulletin Building
Built in 1899, the building was used as the agricultural college’s heating plant and machine shop, later becoming a storage and mailing facility for the Agricultural Bulletin, a unit that printed and distributed the college’s publications.

Victorian mansion on UW-Madison campus.jpg

The building was home to college deans for 90 years. | Photo by 608today

Agricultural Dean’s Residence
The Victorian Gothic mansion, constructed in 1896, sits in the Allen Centennial Garden. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the mansion housed deans of agriculture for 90 years.

Bascom Hall with Abe Lincoln statue in foreground

“Seed by Seed” was unveiled as part of UW-Madison’s 175th anniversary celebration. | Photo by 608today

Bascom Hall
Designed by Indianapolis architect William Tinsley in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, Bascom Hall was the university’s third major building built. Constructed in 1857, the cost caused the university financial distress for years. It now houses the offices of the chancellor and vice chancellors.

A carillon tower on the UW-Madison campus.jpg

The structure holds 56 bells inside. | Photo by 608today

Carillon Tower
Designed by Warren Laird and Paul Philippe Cret, the tower was erected in 1936. There are 56 bronze bells inside which play songs like “On, Wisconsin!” regularly.

The large Memorial Library on the UW-Madison campus.jpg

The library houses over 3.5 million volumes. | Photo by 608today

Memorial Library
The library, when it was built in 1953, was the state’s biggest building project since the Wisconsin Capitol in 1917. Housing over 3.5 million volumes, the library is home to some of the quietest places in Madison.

The main entrance of the Memorial Union on the UW-Madison campus.jpg

The union building faces Lake Mendota for stunning views. | Photo by 608today

Memorial Union
Constructed in 1928, and designed by Arthur Peabody, the building is consistently named one of the most beautiful student union buildings in the United States. The terrace might have something to do with that.

The church-like Music Hall on the UW-Madison campus.jpg

Music Hall is designed like a church devoid of religious imagery. | Photo by 608today

Jonathan Shipley

Music Hall
Called many things over the years (Assembly Hall, Library Hall), Music Hall was built in 1879. The building’s good acoustics made it a fine venue for lectures (John Kennedy, Frank Lloyd Wright, Aaron Copland) and music performances.

Ivy covered North Hall on the UW-Madison campus.jpg

North Hall is the oldest existing building on the UW-Madison campus. | Photo by 608today

Jonathan Shipley

North Hall
The oldest structure at the university, North Hall, designed by John Rague, was built in 1851 in the Greek Revival style. Listed as a National Historic Landmark, naturalist John Muir resided there when he was a student from 1860 to 1863.

The exterior of the UW-Madison Porter Boathouse.jpg

The boathouse can house over 100 boats for the varsity crew teams. | Photo by 608today

Porter Boathouse
The three-story boathouse for the men’s and women’s rowing teams is a 52,000-sqft facility with space to store more than 100 boats, along with repair facilities, exercise areas, locker rooms, and offices. Did you know Frank Lloyd Wright nearly built UW-Madison a boathouse?

The exterior of the Red Gym on the UW-Madison campus.jpg

The Red Gym was originally used as a gymnasium and armory. | Photo by 608today

Red Gym
The imposing Romanesque Revival gymnasium and armory was built in 1894. It has held military offices, artillery drill rooms, bowling alleys, a swimming tank, rifle ranges. The Red Gym also held the likes of William McKinley, William Jennings Bryan, and Upton Sinclair, who gave speeches there.

The exterior of Science Hall on the UW-Madison campus.jpg

Work done in Science Hall has been revolutionary. | Photo by 608today

Science Hall
Constructed in 1888, this National Historic Landmark was designed by Milwaukee architect Henry Koch (who also designed Milwaukee’s City Hall). Due to the work of academic Charles Van Hise, the school housed the first American courses in engineering geology, sedimentation, and oceanography.

Exterior of Washburn Observatory on the UW-Madison campus.jpg

When built, it has the third largest telescope in America. | Photo by 608today

Jonathan Shipley

Washburn Observatory
Named after Wisconsin Governor Cadwallader Washburn, the 1881 Italianate edifice held the third-largest telescope in the United States when it opened. The ideas of dwarf and giant stars originated at the observatory.

The exterior of the Wisconsin State Historical Society building.jpg

The building is free to explore and open to the public. | Photo by 608today

Wisconsin Historical Society Headquarters
Free and open to the public, the library’s reading can be viewed from an observation deck above it. Fun fact: The society’s newspaper collection is the second largest in the US after the Library of Congress.

Buildings yet to come

Several campus buildings are currently under construction:

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