The story of Bascom Hall begins in 1838, when Congress approved a land grant for the creation of a University, in Madison. College Hill (later to become Bascom Hill), became part of the University in 1848.
University Hall (later to become Bascom Hall), opened it's doors in 1859. For the small campus, University Hall was to be used as an "all-purpose student building" (containing lecture rooms, a library, an observatory, chapel, dining hall, etc.).
In 1909, a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln was to be placed in front of University Hall. It was when workmen were digging the foundation for the statue, that they discovered the skeletal remains of two people.
At first, the remains were believed to be those of Indians (University Hall was reportedly built on an Indian Burial Mound), however, wooden coffin remains were also found amongst the human remains. Making these not Indian skeletons.
Further investigation identified the remains as belonging to William Nelson, who died in 1837 (of typhoid), and Sammuel Warren, who died in 1838 (after being stuck by lightning, while working on construction of the first Capitol). The bones were reburied underneath the south steps (leading to the statue). A small plaque marks the spot where the remains are buried.
In 1916, fire destroyed the dome that sat on top of the hall. If not for the efforts of the Madison fire department and UW students (students aided firemen by bringing buckets of water up the hill), the whole building may have been lost.
In 1920, University Hall was offically renamed Bascom Hall, in honor of former University President, John Bascom (UW president from 1874-1887).