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Senator W. (Dad) Perin

Farm Superintendent

Related Buildings

The Farm

Senator W. “Dad” Perin served as the Superintendent of the University Farm from 1889 until 1930. When he arrived at the farm with his young family it consisted of a frame dormitory building, a small stone house, and a few out-buildings. Perin, along with his wife and three small children, moved into the dormitory and made it their home. In 1891 their fourth child, Hazel, was born. In the early 1890’s Mr. Perin added a porch to the house for the family to enjoy.

Mr. Perin soon put the farm in working order. Previously lacking a full time attendant, the farm had fallen into a state of neglect. He tended animals, mended fences, planted test plots, and worked alongside faculty conducting research. He also transported people to and from the downtown campus and the train station, a trip he made almost daily. During the Perin’s earliest years at the farm roads were poor and the ride was difficult. The streetcar didn’t arrive in the neighborhood until 1903, and Holdrege was not paved until even later.

The Perin family frequently included more than their immediate kin. Usually a number of boys who were attending the School of Agriculture boarded at the Perin home in exchange for helping around the farm. Mrs. Perin provided meals for the boarding boys, as well as visitors and guests who frequently included Professor Bessey and other faculty.

The Perins spent nearly 40 years tending to the farm, and the students and faculty that worked and studied there. In time, Senator Perin became known to almost everyone as Dad. He continued to tend to the farm long after cultivation ceased and academic activities increased. In 1923, with their children grown, Dad and Mrs. Perin moved to a bungalow nearby on Orchard Street. The old frame house was razed in 1933. Dad Perin continued to work for the University until his death in 1930. Mrs. Perin died in 1948.

The current Perin Porch was constructed in the 1990’s as a tribute to the Perin family. It is located at the spot where the old frame house once stood.

Source Information:
Reeder, Hazel Perin. Growing Up with the Nebraska School of Agriculture. 1971.
Frolik, Graham. College of Agriculture of the University of Nebraska. 1987.