University of Wisconsin Science Hall

© Photographed August 1, 2015
Erected 1993 by National Park Service,
United States Department of the Interior
Madison, Dane County, Wisconsin
43° 4.554′ N, 89° 24.052′ W

University of Wisconsin-Madison
has been designated a
This site possesses National significance
in commemorating the history of the
United States of America

National Park Service
United States Department of the Interior

The marker is affixed to the facade of the UW-Madison Science Hall located on southbound North Park Street, at its T-intersection with Langdon Street, at 550 North Park Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53706.

UW-Madison: Department of Geography: History of Science Hall

National Historic Landmarks Program:
University of Wisconsin Science Hall
National Register Number: 93001616
Statement of Significance (as of designation - November 4, 1993):
Science Hall is associated with Charles R. Van Hise (1857-1918), who was the first geologist in the Nation to apply microscopic lithology to the extensive study of crystalline rocks, and to use those results in the formulation of geological principles. Van Hise's emphasis on the quantitative application of physical and chemical laws to geological problems was one of his greatest contributions to the science of geology. His influential 1904 monograph, A Treatise on Metamorphism, moved geology out of the science of classification and into formulating principles. As a teacher, Van Hise earned a reputation for training geologists who matched his own high standards in scientific research.
Wisconsin Historical Society National Registers Record
550 North Park Street, County of Dane, Madison
Historic Name: Science Hall
Reference Number: 93001616

Architect: Henry C. Koch, altered by Allen D. Conover
Date of construction: 1887
The University of Wisconsin Science Hall was constructed in 1887 to house the university's science-related programs. Until 1890 it was just one of three instructional facilities on campus. Among the first departments to utilize the building were Engineering, Physics, Mineralogy and Geology, and Zoology.

The building, which sits at the bottom of Bascom Hill, is Romanesque Revival Style. It is U-shaped, of three stories and features walls of red pressed brick laid in common bond. It consists of a series of classrooms, offices, laboratories and reading rooms. Science Hall was originally designed by Milwaukee architect Henry C. Koch (1841-1910) but the plans were altered by Allen D. Conover (1854-1919) a Professor of Civil Engineering.

Old Science Hall was destroyed by fire in 1884, consequently the new building was designed to be fireproof. Conover insisted that hollow clay tile and additional iron and steel columns be used in the construction of Science Hall to make the building as fireproof as possible. Conover's alterations to the original plan increased the cost of the building putting financial strain on the university. However, in April 1887 the legislature reluctantly agreed to grant an additional $175,000 to complete the project and liquidate the Regents' debt. The total cost of Science Hall is estimated to have been $285,000.

Since it was opened in 1888, this building has been home to many great scientific scholars and educators. Among them were the prominent geologists Charles R. Van Hise (1857-1918) and Thomas C. Chamberlin (1843-1928). Both men made great contributions to the science of geology and gained national attention and recognition for their work done in Science Hall.

Today Science Hall sits among the older portion of the large, now modern University of Wisconsin campus. It is a working building and is open to the public during regular school hours.
The foregoing content used with permission of Wisconsin Historical Society.

The property is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Wisconsin and the State Register.

Screenshots of vintage postcards provided by

The south side of the building.

Monochrome . . .

The Science Hall is located on the campus of UW-Madison.

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