The Forgotten Class Stone

17 07 2017
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Class of 1900 posing with their stone; June 15, 1900 (A005318)

An icon on the campus of Michigan State University, the Rock that resides off Farm Lane has been a meeting point and photograph backdrop for generation of students. Most know the Rock as a brightly-colored billboard that anybody can paint anew everyday, but most don’t know it was a class gift from the Class of 1873. It was dug out of the ground and was first placed in the Sacred Circle near Beaumont Tower. It stayed there for 112 years, but September of 1985, it moved to its current location off Farm Lane. Following the Class of 1873’s example, the Class of 1900 decided to gift their own stone. Unfortunately, people will not be able to locate the stone; instead, people will notice the Class of 1900 Fountain that is near Linton Hall. How did the Class of 1900 come to donate two gifts? Here is the tale of the forgotten class stone.

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Men pay their respects to the buried stone.  The grave marker reads, ” ’00 Stone Dead”, circa 1900 (A005419)

The Class of 1900 donated their own stone, which was placed near the current Music building. During this time, the seniors and juniors were having a competition to publish the first Wolverine yearbook. The juniors beat the seniors to the punch and won. In response, the seniors stole 75 copies of the yearbook. To retaliate, the juniors buried the Class of 1900 stone, and marked it with a wooden plaque that read, “’00 Stone Dead” in the night. The seniors dug it back up, but later, an “unknown person,” built a fire and set the stone ablaze. To put the fire out, water was thrown on the stone. Unfortunately, the water caused the stone to shatter and became unrecognizable. No person was ever charged with destroying the stone.

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The aftermath of the Class of 1900 stone being set on fire and put out with water.  The stone is unrecognizable from what it used to be, circa 1900 (A005345)

Four years later, the Class of 1900 donated the white sandstone rock drinking fountain. This fountain was unique because it worked as a drinking fountain for both people and horses. It was situated between Williams and Linton Hall. People on the sidewalk could walk up to the people side of the fountain while horses on the road could get water from the watering trough side.

As time passed, the driveway leading up to Linton Hall was removed and the fountain was turned off. At some point, flowers were planted into the basins of the fountain. Today, the fountain is still in its original location, but the sidewalk is now located on the watering trough side, so the front is not easily visible.

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Man drinking from the Class of 1900 Fountain, date unknown (A001724)

It’s a short story of the forgotten class stone with very little sources. Unfortunately, a firsthand account could have been added but Irma Thompson ’00, when writing her memories of M.A.C., purposely left out that information. She wrote, “I decided to skip the class stone. The story has been told again and again. What new material I could add would still be a betrayal of 1900 to its ancient enemies. I lived with a 1901 graduate for 58 years and never told him what happened to the 75 missing Wolverines.”

To learn more about the Rock, visit http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Exhibit/1-6-1D/the-rock-at-msu/.

Sources

Beal, W.J. (1915). History of the Michigan agricultural college and biographical sketches of trustees and professors. East Lansing: Agricultural College.

“The Drinking Fountain,” from the M.A.C. Record, Vol. 10 No. 2, September 27, 1904

“Fountain by Class of 1900,” from the M.A.C. Record, Vol. 9 No. 39, June 21, 1904

Kuhn, Madison. (1955). Michigan State: The First Hundred Years, 1855-1955. Michigan State University Press. East Lansing, Mich.

“Memories”, 1963, n.d., Irma Thompson Papers, UA 10.3.35, Box 761, Folder 1. Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections. East Lansing, Mich.

“The Senior Class Stone,” from the M.A.C. Record, Vol. 5 No. 37, June 5, 1900

 

Written by Jennie Russell, Assistant Records Archivist

 

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