Every day that I walk past Holland and Steensland, my heart aches a bit at the loss of our dear old friend and by far the best named campus building, the Chemistry Shack! The Chemistry Shack was incredibly short lived, only being used for three years for actual chemistry, though it was later used as a machine shop after it was reconstructed at the campus farm.
The chemistry department used to be housed in Old Main, along with all other academic disciplines, but as the campus started growing they needed more space for labs. In 1919 they decided to build something next to Steensland to allow classes to continue. But what sort of building to build? That was the question.
Safety is of paramount importance for any science class, most especially chemistry, where you may be working with chemicals — some dangerous, some flammable. What sort of building is best? What sort of building is safest?
Literally any building other than a shack. Even something other than a building, maybe a Chemistry Cave, would have been better. A shack was the worst possible choice of building. Shacks are shoddy, flammable, untrustworthy, and dangerous. Why, oh why, would the college conduct chemistry in a shack? This question delights me to no end. Someone made the decision to erect a shack on this campus and then use it for chemistry and I think that is superb. It makes me appreciate Regents and its many safety measures and protocols even more, but mostly I laugh about the shack, and I wish it could come back.
Teague Peterson-McGuire is from Oconomowoc, Wis.
His majors are film and media studies, and Nordic studies.