Why is “AGRICULTURE” spelled “AGRICVLTVRE” on the front of Ag Hall?
Agriculture Hall, commonly referred to by University of Wisconsin-Madison students as Ag Hall, began construction in 1902. The building was erected as way to consolidate all three buildings [Agriculture Hall (South Hall), Smith Hall and King Hall] of the College of Agriculture. The three buildings were becoming immensely overcrowded, and in an attempt to offer more space for the faculty and students, dean William Henry proposed the construction of a new all-in-one building for the College of Agriculture.
In 1901, Henry — along with UW architect J.T.W. Jennings — began planning for the creation of the new building. That same year, the legislature approved the $150,000 needed for construction. By December 1903, after labor strikes and more legislative monetary appropriations, the 200 foot by 64 foot, three-story, rectangular building was complete.
Ag Hall was completed with the “Aricvltvre” signature engraved across the front of the building. According to the College of Agriculture Dean’s office, this Latin spelling of agriculture was used by early administrators in an attempt to appear learned. Apparently, at the time the building was constructed, to know Latin meant that one was learned and had been to college.