Grab your books and find your seat, we’re heading back to class today. With graduation behind us and summer term just around the corner, now feels like a good time to study up on one of our favorite UW-Madison campus spots — Bascom Hill.
🍎 History 101
This land — an ancestral place called Teejop — originally belonged to the Ho-Chunk Nation during the 19th century. In 1832, the Ho-Chunk were forced to surrender the territory. Just a few years ago, the university + the Ho-Chunk dedicated a plaque honoring this history and the resilience of the Nation.
🍎 Geography 101
Located at the end of State Street, opposite the Wisconsin State Capitol, Bascom Hill represents the beginnings of the UW-Madison campus. Plus, it’s an example of a glacial drumlin.
The location’s steepness made it desirable as a place elevated enough to oversee the village of Madison. For reference, it’s 850-ft long (roughly 90 Spotted Cow beer bottles) with an elevation gain of 86-ft. The hill itself is on the National Register of Historic Places.
🍎 Architecture 101
North Hall — the university’s first building —was completed in 1851, just three years after Wisconsin’s statehood + the university’s establishment.
Perhaps the most famous of the buildings — Bascom Hall — was constructed in 1859 and originally opened as University Hall or Main Hall. Over the next 50 years, the building underwent minor reconstructions, tweaking designs + creating more space for a growing student population. In 1916, the building’s dome caught fire and burned down. While the dome was not restored, the building was renamed just a few years later in 1920 to Bascom Hall — in honor of former University president John Bascom.
Class dismissed. Time to cut loose and connect with some of the hill’s more fun traditions like Fill the Hill + traying during the winter months. Got any Bascom Hill stories from your time at UW or in the 608? Your turn to teach us.