History

Allen Centennial Garden is the artful living laboratory and public botanical garden of the Horticulture Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Garden serves as an outdoor classroom for UW-Madison students and the surrounding communities, providing meaningful learning opportunities for visitors of all ages.

The Gardens are open year-round, dawn to dusk. Admission is free.

The Dean's Residence

The Garden is built around a stately Victorian gothic house nestled on the agricultural campus. The house, known as the “Lake Dormer,” the “Fred House,” the “Agricultural Dean’s Residence,” and simply as “10 Babcock Drive,” was one of the first buildings on the agricultural campus and served as home for the college’s first four deans. It remains a cherished landmark for generations of students, alumni and friends of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Each of the four deans, William A. Henry (1891-1907), Harry L. Russell (1907-1931), Christian L. Christensen (1931-1943) and Edwin B. Fred (1943-1945), played a major role in the development of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at UW-Madison. Dean Fred continued to reside in the house after becoming president of the University.

While the house is no longer used as the dean’s residence, it continues to serve a vital role within the university. The house has been used as offices for the Agricultural Research Stations and later included the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Conference Services and Garden staff.

In 1984, the house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. This provided overdue recognition of the building and its grounds and gave the residence its appropriate place among Wisconsin’s historic resources. Registration also saved it from certain demise as the campus grew and looked to expand classroom and research facilities.

Dean's Residence on a Sunny Day