The Olive Tree
After 55 years in the cupola atop Fogler Library, the century-old bronze bell
from Wingate Hall and the subject of a six-year search, was removed and lowered
by crane to the ground on Maine Day, May 3.
Facilities Management hired a professional rigging crew to construct an elaborate winch and trolley system on the library roof to get the 700-800-pound bronze bell out of the cupola. Crews moved the bell on a special heavy-equipment cart across and down two levels of roofing to the edge of the library parapet. Roof Systems of Maine in Bangor lowered the bell to the ground on the west side of the library, while administrators from the College of Engineering, UMaine President Robert Kennedy and others observed the event.
Once on the ground, the bell will be wheeled to the Advanced Manufacturing Center, where students are set to continue cleaning the bell, according to Chet Rock, associate dean of the College of Engineering, who has spent the better part of six years trying to discover where the forgotten bell was. The bell hung from the time Wingate Hall opened in 1894 until a fire in 1943 at Wingate, the former the home of the College of Technology, now the College of Engineering. The bell had been a signature icon at the University of Maine, the subject of a campus song and object of an unknown number of student pranks.
After fire destroyed the Wingate bell tower, the bell was displayed in front of Oak Hall for a time, but was moved at some point - a point no one remembered until Rock took his detective work the Fogler Library's Special Collections looking for evidence. He found in the 1953 edition of "The Prism" yearbook a photo of the bell being hoisted atop the library in June of 1951.
The bell is now on display at the entrance to the Buchanan Alumni House.
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