125th Anniversary of Science Hall

Celebrate Science HallWhen alumni talk about their experiences as a student in the geography department, they often speak of the fondness they have for Science Hall itself. Once home to all sciences on the UW-Madison campus, Science Hall is steeped in history, mystery and some great traditions that are literally tied to the walls of this grand building.

This year Science Hall reached a milestone —  its 125th anniversary!

On October 30th (4-9pm), the Department of Geography and Nelson Institute will hold an anniversary celebration to mark the occasion. There will be tours, talks, and a reception in our beautiful Robinson Map Library. We will take a look back at the building’s past and look forward towards its future.

See more information about this event here!

As part of our anniversary celebration, we are collecting stories and reminiscences about Science Hall. You can leave a comment below or send your thoughts to



4 Responses to “125th Anniversary of Science Hall”

  1. I spent many hours in Science Hall during my graduate studies in the early ’90’s for my MS WRM and was very fond on the building. I often studied in the Geography Library with its big windows onto Bascom Hall. I took a course with Professor William Denevan who often alluded to the building in his lectures with examples from old novels, comic books and other lore. Once when a door squeaked he mentioned the ghost of Science Hall. His office was a wonderful two story space with a loft full of books.

    Posted by Robin Schmidt | October 1, 2013, 6:30 pm
  2. My office during graduate school was on the 5th floor overlooking Langdon (and the lake, Capitol, Memorial Union, and the Madison skyline.) I always said that the view was the reason it took me so long to finish!

    A friend once asked me why I decided to study Geography at Madison, and I said that I wanted an office across the street from the Terrace. He paused and then replied, “Well, that is a geographic reason.”

    Science Hall is such a classic building. Not the most modern or comfortable, but with a real character and personality. Those of us who spent days – and sometimes nights – in the building will always have a special place in our hearts for Science Hall.

    My two regrets: I never went down the spiral slide as an undergraduate. And I didn’t steal a piece of the slate roof when it was replaced. (The fact that the University didn’t repair/replace the slate roof with slate should be counted as a historic shame as well.)

    Posted by Robbie Webber | October 22, 2013, 4:15 pm
  3. Science Hall was the original home of the UW Psychology Department which also celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, one of the oldest Psychology Departments in the nation.

    Posted by Chuck Snowdon | October 22, 2013, 6:21 pm
  4. I was a Geography student in the 1980s, and Science Hall was always my favorite building on campus. I also remember visiting the Geology Museum in Science Hall on a school field trip in the early 1970s. My dad worked for the UW Grounds Department in 1952. He told me about his first time picking up the trash from Science Hall. After getting the trash, his co-worker told him that there was something he should see and took him to a door on the lower level of Science Hall. His co-worker opened the door so my dad would go in first. My dad was pretty shocked to see one cadaver laying on a table and another hanging by its head from a sort of tongs contraption that went over its head and in its ears. He told me he later found out that unclaimed bodies were used there by medical students.

    Posted by Ruth M | October 30, 2013, 12:06 pm

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