Statues on campus exhibit BYU’s diverse past



    They stand through the snow, sun, sleet and showers. Unchanging and hopefully unmoving, they keep their vigil: to serve as a reminder of what they represent and to watch campus. Yes, they see you between classes as you mindlessly pass by.

    They’re Brigham Young, Karl G. Maeser, Joseph Smith and Massasoit. They are these and other statues on campus.

    On the northeast end of campus is where the bronze cougar guards stadium. The one ton sculpture arrived in time to witness to see BYU play Utah State University in 1974. It was cast in Italy and sponsored by the classes of 1965 and 1969. Avard Fairbanks sculpted this statue and several others on campus.

    Moving south to the Marriott Center, there is a bell hanging from a tower. It stands still and silent until a victory by a Cougar sports team.

    The first Y Bell was destroyed a fire in 1884 that also destroyed the Lewis Building. It wasn’t until 1912 when a new bell was acquired and hung in the Education Building on the Lower Campus. It was rung every hour and at sports victories, and those courageously fought events that did not end victoriously.

    In 1949, the Y Bell was moved to Upper Campus where is was mounted on a two-wheeled wagon. Later that year, the bell was cracked because of “overenthusiastic ringing” after a sports victory.

    The University called upon John Campaux, a traveling instructor from the Oxyweld Company, and Frank Hemmingway, a welder from the Union Pacific Railroad shops, to repair the bell. The entire bell was placed in a brick oven and heated to a high temperature while they welded it in the physical plant shops. Then the bell was slowly cooled.

    After repairs, the bell resume its duties of marking time and victories. It was also tradition for the graduating seniors to ring the bell to announce their personal victory of graduation.

    The bell and wagon disappeared in 1958, but was found six months later in a field west of Springville.

    With the recovery of the bell, it was permanently mounted on a tower and dedicated in 1959.

    All was well with the bell until February 4, 1974, when it toppled down as it was being rung for the Marriott Center dedication. The yoke suspending it broke and the bell was extensively cracked and the top of it was broken out.

    It was back to the physical plant shops for the Y Bell. Under the careful care of welder Ray Mortensen, machinist Elmo Croft, student assistant Evan Miner, and foreman J. Petty Jones, the bell was again heated, welded and slowly cooled. After the repairs, the bell was again mounted on the tower where it still remains and marks the victories in Cougar Stadium and Marriott Center.

    Southeast of the Marriott Center is the Museum of Art. Surrounding the museum is a garden of sculptures ranging from abstract to still life. The garden includes the bronze abstract “Juno”, by Rueben Nakia; the bronze statue titled “Sleepwalking”, by James R. Avati, which takes advantage of linear shapes; the bronze “Resurrection”, by Franz Mark Johansen, which representational statue of the rising up of the dead; “Jessica”, by Angelo Caravaglia, is a bronze statue as a still frame of a girl in a dance position; “Maxine”, by Neil Hadlock, is a bronze abstract figure; and “Christina”, by Dennis Smith, is a bronze statue of a girl appearing to be standing in the wind. The red “Love” statue was moved from the garden and placed in the basement of the museum a year and a half ago.

    It’s a common phrase: “Meet me at the Brigham Young statue to go to ________” (fill in the destination of choice.) This statue was built by Mahonri Young, Brigham’s last grandchild to be born before he died in 1877. He is cast in bronze and stands seven and a half feet tall and weighs 1,300 pounds as he keeps his watch on a four foot square block that weighs 7,000 pounds.

    The Brigham Young statue was originally designed for “This is the Place Monument.” It had Brigham Young and both of his counselors standing in front with Young’s arm resting on the shoulder of one of his counselors. His hand was changed for the statue standing on the south side of the Abraham O. Smoot Administration Building.

    Brigham is also known, on occasion, to do the funky chicken dance.

    Moving south towards the Harold B. Lee Library by way of the Jesse Knight Humanities Building, the next statue in sight is the Massasoit. It’s the only person on campus allowed to wear just a loin cloth.

    Massasoit was a Wampanogas Indian Chief from the Plymouth, Mass., area. He was the chief who greeted the Pilgrims in 1620. He played a key role in helping the relationships between the natives and the colonists grow into one of friendship and cooperation.

    Massasoit was the head of the group if Indians that helped the colonist survive their first winter and is attributed to having the first Thanksgiving.

    The heroic-sized bronze statue was sculpted by Cyrus Dallin. The one on campus is a replica of the original which was placed in 1921, near Plymouth, Mass., in celebration of the 300th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims.

    Vickie Tams, 20, and junior from Perry, Cache county, majoring in math education, said she thinks the statue is here because of the heritage of the Native American culture at BYU.

    “Harold B. Lee worked with the Indians a lot, proclaiming the gospel to the Lamanites,” Tams said.

    Massasoit remained unmarked and a mystery to students until June 1994 when the Collegiate Knights and the Tribe of Many Feathers sponsored the placard that now identifies it.

    Inside the Harold B. Lee Library are two relief statues, statues are not freestanding, but are attached to a wall. Both are images from The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ and are next to the circulation desk in the library. One is of the ancient prophets Lehi and his son Nephi as they use the Liahona and the other is of Mormon and his son Moroni.

    On the south side of the library are engravings that represent the four areas of knowledge: aesthetics, ethics, logic and truth. They were placed there when the second addition to the library was built in the 1970s.

    Moving west from the library, the next statue in sight is of a young family, consisting of a father and a mother holding hands with their young daughter.

    The statue is commonly know as the family statue, but its officials name is “First Child.”

    “First Child” is to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the LDS Church. The bronze statue is to figuratively explore the joys of the family experience. It was placed in 1979 in its home between the Smith Family Living Center and the Spencer W. Kimball Tower.

    It was sculpted by Dennis Smith in 1978. Smith also sculpted 11 of the 13 statues in the Relief Society garden at the Nauvoo Visitor’s Center.

    On from “First Child,” face south and continue between the Eyring Science Center and the Spencer W. Kimball Tower. In the northwest corner of the quad, there is the “Tree of Wisdom.” The 15 foot tall monument was commissioned along with the “Windows of Heaven,” a 30 foot steel and multi-colored stained glass structure, for the Centennial celebration of the university under the presidency of Dallin H. Oaks.

    The “Tree of Wisdom” was designed by Frank Nackos and made of reinforced ferro-concrete. Each piece of the statue is made of two curtains of steel and painted white. It is also reinforced with a steel rod running through all pieces. Each piece fits into a slot and locked into place with a special grout.

    Nackos said he was portraying a symbolic tree, which shows both the roots and the limbs. And he said that if looked at from a certain angle, it also portrays the letter “Y.”

    The “Tree of Wisdom” was transplanted from its spot in the quad between the library and the Harris Fine Arts Center to its home in the Spencer W. Kimball Tower quad.

    Dallin H. Oaks, then president of BYU, said the “Tree of Wisdom” represents the harmony of spiritual and intellectual learning and our ideal of individual growth.

    The other Centennial gift is the “Windows of Heaven” stands in between the W.W.W. Clyde Engineering Building and the John A. Widstoe Building on the south side of campus.

    Designed by Francis P. Riggs, a then part-time faculty member and a graduate of the Pratt Institute in New York, then President Oaks said the “Windows of Heaven” symbolizes the devotion and dependance of LDS Church members upon the ultimate source of all truth.

    Both the “Tree of Wisdom” and “Windows of Heaven” were received with negative reactions from the University community thought the expense of the statues was unjustified.

    Moving southward in the quad, almost hidden from view is a rock. It was placed in 1974. The Rock is hand-carved from Costa Rica. Rocks such as these have mystified archeologists because of the preciseness of the spheres and the lack of knowledge about their purpose. This rock weighs approximately 2,000 pounds. Rocks similar to this one range in size from one ton to 16 tons and can measure up to eight feet in diameter.

    South of the Rock is the Joseph Smith Building. Inside the building there is an open air atrium that houses “The Vision” statue of Joseph Smith. It is a sculpture of Joseph Smith “kneeling, looking hopefully up into the heavenly at the moment prior to the heavenly manifestation of the heavenly beings,” according to information from the Alumni Association.

    Avard Fairbanks sculpted the statue and the classes of 1945, 1947, 1955 and 1957 provided donations to fund the statue.

    It was unveiled on October 1997 and Elder Henry B. Eyring, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle, and President Merrill J. Bateman, president of BYU, spoke at the ceremony.

    From the atrium, go outside the west doors of the Joseph Smith Building out into the Maeser Building Quad. In front of the Maeser Building is the statue of the building’s namesake. The heroic-sized statue was dedicated November 4, 1958 with Helaman Halls.

    The statue came at the suggestion of Brant S. Hinckley in a 1995 Devotional address when he said, “I hope to see the day when Karl G. Maeser is erected on this campus.”

    The statue of Karl G. Maeser was a gift from the Nicholas G. Morgan Foundation and was created Ortho R. Fairbanks.

    Wear and tear is not a statue, but is what happens to statues as they endure the cycles of the season.

    The care of the statues rests on the grounds crew.

    Roy Peterman, grounds crew supervisor, said the statues are made out of fairly durable materials.

    “They are most made out if durable materials, like bronze and concrete, that last,” said Peterman.

    An organization called the Capital Needs Analysis determines if any major repairs need to be done on the statues, Peterman said.

    Also, every year as a part of protecting the campus from the Utes, the statues are covered in plastic for the week preceding the BYU vs. University of Utah game.

    Editor’s Note: For those of you who think Christine didn’t have anything else better to do than research statues on campus, she chose this subject because of her curiosity about them. After three weeks of compiling information from the University Archives, University Communications, and books, this is what she has come up with.

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