Key 43: Botany 1906/Botany Building 1929
With the appointment of a Professor of Botany in 1906, the partitioning of the original chair of natural science was complete. Though at this point it only acquired the status of half a professor, since A.J. Ewart, a botanist with a distinguished record in teaching and research, also held the position of Government Botanist.
Professor Spencer had not developed Botany beyond the elementary level so its true foundation can be dated from the arrival of Ewart. He was not made a full-time professor until 1921. Ewart began his work in an extension to the Biology building.
Within a few years he had introduced advanced botany courses in science and agriculture and medical botany. He laid the foundation of the Botany Library and re-asserted his rights over the System Garden at a time when it was seriously at risk of disappearing under building works. In 1916 the octagonal glass house was replaced by a new rectangular one on the original site next to the tower.
His efforts to develop a building to the east of the Garden were hampered by the war, financial stringencies, disputes with Council about the siting of the building and whether or not it should be shared with Geology. If he eventually prevailed in securing 'a dignified and perfectly appointed home for Botany in a setting of well-kept lawns and trees which became the pleasantest part of the University,' it was far from luxurious.
When in November 1929 Ewart moved in with five academic staff and two assistants, there was no heating and few shelves. These had been forsaken in the interests of benches in the lecture theatres and a dark room.