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Wish You Were Here: If These Walls Could Talk

Alumni talk about their favorite campus buildings — which ones hold a place in their heart and why.

The Education Building is pictured at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on June 18, 2020. The building is home to the School of Education. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

The UW is more than just a place: it’s the people you meet, the lessons you learn. But it’s also a place filled with some of the widest variety of architectural styles you can imagine. And those buildings form an indelible part of our memories. Did you fight the damp with your violin in Humanities? Sit and listen to the bells of the Carillon Tower? Did you hang out backstage at the Union Theater or work in the kitchens at Gordon Dining and Events Center? Did you hide in the cages in Memorial Library or get your steps climbing up Van Hise?

We want to hear what your favorite campus building is or was. Tell us about the structure that provided a backdrop to your best campus memories.

Send us your memory. (Include photos, please!) We’ll add it to this scrapbook.

Wisconsin Historcial Society Library: I loved browsing the book stacks while a UW-Madison History student in the 1970s. Later in 1991, I researched for our Village of Deerfield Centennial. In 2009, as a Historical Society member I was excited to go on tour when all the remodeling and upgrades were explained. In the main study room, the ceiling had been drab; however, with the remodel it became a beautiful glass ceiling. The tables had modern electrical access for computers; however, had old fashioned looking lights.
Joan Weckmueller ’72

For me it is Memorial Union with the Rathskeller, Terrace, and the swimming pier off the Terrace. Add the University Club for the quiet lunch. Add the Red Gym when it had a swimming pool. I even saw a picture posted showing me life guarding at this funny little swimming pool. When I return to Madison I spend time at the ‘Onion’ and walking the lakeshore path. And of course Camp Randall; the sounds, smells, and ‘the vibes.
Eric Seiling ’73

Favorite building = North Hall, where I learned and honed the skills that led to a career as a writer and editor. Just retired at age 78. Thank you, UW-Madison. Does North Hall still exist?
Karen Ryan ’64

Favorite building = North Hall, where I learned and honed the skills that led to a career as a writer and editor. Just retired at age 78. Thank you, UW-Madison. Does North Hall still exist?
Karen Ryan ’64

I'd have to say Music Hall, first of all because my dad, Gwynn McPeek, had his office there for many years. We rehearsed on the stage (WYSO, concert band, orchestra, Savoyards, and many more). Good times.
Mary Ann Fraley ’72

As an undergraduate English major, I was captivated by gazing at Lake Mendota from Helen C. White Hall and its College Library. But, my fondest campus memories stem from my time in the Law School. Occasionally, a Socratic exchange in the classroom was thrilling and affirming. But, the friendships forged in the shared, intense experience led to the fondest memories. I have never laughed harder than when we went out on Thursday nights to let off steam.
Elizabeth Gracie ’80, MA’83

Before I was even a UW student, I worked my last year and summer of high school as a security guard for Tri-State Security, based out of Monona. I regularly wound up guarding the State Historical Society building, and wound up frequenting it as an undergraduate Journalism student for its microfilm newspaper archives.
Terin Miller ’84

I worked as a student in the Wisconsin Historical Society stacks, for what was then known as WILS (the Wisconsin Interlibrary Loan Service), while I pursued a graduate program in the Information School. I remember a lot of the requests we processed were of a genealogical nature. Being right across the Library Mall from the Memorial Library, with the iSchool right up the street in White Hall, for me it was "information central". And the Memorial Union, with its memorable Rathskeller, was right around the corner!
Charles Forrest ’79

While Bascom Hall gets consideration, Science Hall was my favorite structural backdrop. The Richardson Romanesque architecture (the building was deemed a US National Historic Landmark) is iconic and the classic design made taking classes there enjoyable. Whether I was trudging up Observatory, hitting the books at Helen C. White, or stopping at Memorial Union for a cold one, I always enjoyed walking in the Science Hall shadow. My only regret is that I didn’t get to go down the Science Hall fire escape chutes before they closed them off!
Matthew Kyler ’79

My favorite study spot was within College Library. Up on the 3rd floor in the quiet area, there were tables by the windows that face out to Lake Mendota. That view was hard to beat!
John Whiting ’10

I was born in University Hospital and my earliest memories are on the Terrace with my Mom. I have seven decades of great experiences before during and after graduation. From grass and flagstones to outdoor snack bar and cement-the beer and brats remain constant! Only thing missing is a Terrace Chair at home but I have the T-shirt and coffee mug!
Stephen Halloway ’69

Lived at Steenbock
Ted McKenna ’75

Bouldering on the Alumni Building (and Chamberlin Rock). I understand both are off limits these days. Sad loss.
Thomas Kelly ’85

taking a study break from studying in the law library to head over to Helen C. White undergrad library. In the early 1980s, the top floor section facing Lake Mendota was an open reading room with a wealth of paper back novels stocking its wings. one could grab a copy of a Stewart or Tolkien tome and just disappear into 5th c. Britain or Middle Earth for an hour. the experience made Contracts and Torts just tolerable.
Thomas Turner ’85

Memorial Library basement (when serious worked had to be done); Helen C White (for casual studying and listening to music; and Law Library (beautiful room to contemplate)
David Endres ’88, JD’98

The stacks of the Wisconsin Historical Society was my favorite place to study if I needed to be undisturbed for multiple hours. It was one of the quietest places on campus, and yet if I needed a break, walking through the historical exhibits provided a nice diversion.
Curtis Grosskopf ’86, MS’87

Friday afternoon Beer Supper at the Frat house. The band: The Ardells (Steve Miller, Boz Scaggs, Ben Sidran) We paid them $75.00 for two 45 minute sets.
James Berry ’64

Reading about the construction of the Humanities Building and knowing it is being replaced, made me think of the walk back to the building courtyard with the band after football games. Was great fun to walk behind the band, teared up when stopped at the children's hospital, loved Director Leckrone's praise of the band's halftime performance, and cheered with the good-bye hat toss.
Ann Pehle ’78

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