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The University of Wisconsin was a one-building operation from its first classes held in 1849 to the completion of South Hall in 1855. The UW rented space from the Madison Female Academy to hold those first few classes until the nonexistent campus had a building of its own. North Hall was completed in 1851, and as the sole university building, it served as a lecture hall, laboratory, library, dormitory, and chapel. By 1859, the UW campus was made up of a trio of buildings: North Hall, South Hall, and Bascom Hall. Two other dormitories were included in the UW’s original 1850 master plan, but they never came to be. Today, the university’s main campus comprises 420 buildings, including 17 million square feet of space dedicated to classrooms and research labs.

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