At this location, near the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden (1873), the Botanical Laboratory stood from 1879 until it burned on March 20, 1890. Watson and Arnold of Lansing designed this Gothic-inspired, wooden structure as the first botanical laboratory on campus. It also housed Professor Beal's botanical museum.
When the Botanical Laboratory burned, Professor Beal wanted the new botany building to be located in the center of campus, which would have been just west of Linton Hall. According to Professor Madison Kuhn, author of Michigan State's centennial history, President Oscar Clute (1889-1893) changed the delivery of the bricks for the second botany building to preserve the "sacred" space—an oak opening—where Michigan State University began.
For the second botany building, located on what is today West Circle Drive, there was an impressive cornerstone dedication on June 22, 1892. The cornerstone inscription, "Botany A.D. 1892," is still prominent. The current building name is Old Botany.