On Campus: The Log Cabin

If you have found yourself on the campus of UW-Whitewater, you have most likely encountered the hill at some point. As you climbed the hill you likely witnessed this:

And, did you possibly think, why is there a log cabin on campus?

The log cabin is not original to UW-Whitewater, although it has been on the campus for over 110 years. Originally, the log cabin was constructed in 1846 by Gulick Halverson in Richmond, Wisconsin. President Salisbury sought to bring the log cabin to campus to celebrate pioneer life and bring more history to the campus. In 1907 the log cabin was carefully taken apart and the pieces were brought to the university. Alumni raised funds to reconstruct the cabin during homecoming and the cabin was raised on the hill.

On November 27, 1907, the faculty held a housewarming party (or perhaps a cabin warming party?) to celebrate the completion of the log cabin. A formal supper was served, songs were sung, and stories were told well into the nights.  Initially, the cabin served as an informal faculty clubhouse and students would often picnic nearby.


People in the community also utilized the log cabin as a meeting and gathering spot. Weddings, funerals, parties, and births were celebrated at the log cabin and it was feature for both the university and for the community. It also served a kind of museum for pioneer life, though in a somewhat informal manner. In the 1950s an inventory was taken of the cabin and over 100 items relating to pioneer life were found inside.

By the 1960s the log cabin was due for a face lift. In 1964 a second restoration of the cabin was completed by the Whitewater Historical Association. The log cabin today is padlocked and no longer the site of raucous faculty gatherings, but remains a prominent feature on the landscape of UW-Whitewater.

Reference: M. Janette Bohi, A History of Wisconsin State University Whitewater 1868-1968(Whitewater: Whitewater State University Foundation, 1967), 117-118.

Hyer Hall: Who is Frank Hyer?

One of my favorite buildings on campus is Hyer Hall, especially in the summer months when the ivy covers the building and the flowers bloom in varying shades of purple, white, and yellow. Hyer Hall is named after Frank S. Hyer, who was appointed president of the University in 1919. A Wisconsin native, Hyer attended Milwaukee State Teachers College (now UW-Milwaukee) and Ripon College. Before being appointed president of Whitewater, he was a teacher and administrator all over Wisconsin, serving in a variety of positions.

During his tenure as president, Hyer helped the University become the second largest normal school in the state. Between 1923 and 1925 enrollments reached nearly one thousand students. This also lead to improvements around campus. The East Wing addition, now Hyer Hall, was built in order to expand the Old Main Building complex and provide much needed space. Initially, Hyer Hall was intended to serve as an auditorium and this costly addition was completed in 1925 at the cost of $260,000.

His presidency is also marked by an event known as the Hyer-Cotton controversy. Professor Cotton attempted to host the Young Men’s Progressive Association campus, but President Hyer denied the use of the campus auditorium. Then, Professor Cotton, of the Public Speaking Department, invited more controversial speakers to campus for the Walworth County Open Forum. Hyer claimed Cotton was seeking publicity and sought to prevent the event. Cotton then accused Hyer of salary discrimination because of their differing political opinions.

The controversy split the community in 1926. The attorney general (and future governor) Philip La Follette sided with Cotton and the Board of Regents supported Hyer. Eventually, Cotton left the university and went to teach at Milwaukee State College (where he was fired in 1945 over a salary dispute).

Hyer remained president of the University until 1930. He left to become president of Central State College at Stevens Point (now UW-Stevens Point). The East Wing addition was named after Hyer in April 1967.

References: M. Janette Bohi, A History of Wisconsin State University Whitewater 1868-1968(Whitewater: Whitewater State University Foundation, 1967), 149-157; Richard Carleton Haney, Campus Cornerstones, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater: Biographical Sketches of the People for whom Buildings and Facilities are Named(Whitewater: University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, 1997), 67-68.