550 N. Parks St. Madison Landmark 2006 National Register 1993 National Historic Landmark
Richardsonian Romanesque Henry Koch & Allan Conover
Completed in December, 1887 – First occupied in January, 1888
Originally designed by Milwaukee architect Henry C. Koch but the plans were altered by Allan D. Conover, a Professor of Civil Engineering. Frank Lloyd Wright was part-time student assistant to Conover at the time.
U-shaped, dark red three-foot thick brick walls, foundation of lighter-colored Berlin, Wisconsin rhyolite (a volcanic rock). Its massive, rectangular central tower is augmented by lesser corner towers, beside which extend the building's two imposing wings.
When Old Science Hall
burned, many departments lost irreplaceable scientific records, museum collections, libraries and equipment. Determined this would not happen again this Science Hall was built to be fireproof with wood only for some floors, windows and door frames.
It was one of the first, if not the very first, buildings in the country to be constructed of all masonry and metal materials, and may be the oldest one still extant. Massive iron and steel beams provide the framework for the building's central section and its interior floors. On the beams in the attic, you can see how steel used to be cut, before steel saws and acetylene torches, by drilling a row of holes and then bending it until it snapped.
Home of prominent geologists Charles R. Van Hise
and Thomas C. Chamberlin
. Both men made great
contributions to the science of geology and gained national attention and recognition for their
work done in Science Hall.