Did You Know?: John Purdue statue

February 25, 2013  


John Purdue

This John Purdue statue will be installed east of University Hall on April 14. (Purdue University photo/Dennis Slape)
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A bronze statue of Purdue's benefactor and namesake soon will sit quietly on a bench near University Hall -- as the man once did himself almost 140 years ago.

This April, a statue of John Purdue with a regal cane and an open book will be placed on a new bench. Located east of University Hall and south of Memorial Fountain and John Purdue's grave, the bench will read, "For John Purdue, education was the flame that lit the world," which is a quote from a biography about him.

The dedication, which will be open to the public, is scheduled for 10 a.m. April 14. The statue was made possible through support from Purdue alumni and friends, the Order of Iron Key Class of 2012 and the University. Each class of the Order of Iron Key contains 12 members. Their identities are secret while they are in the society.  

"Our University's name is Purdue, but many students don't realize where the name Purdue comes from. Many don't even know who John Purdue was," says Stuart Shippee, a fifth-year senior and member of the Order of Iron Key Class of 2012.

John Purdue lived 1802 to 1876. The University's primary benefactor, he was a prominent businessman in Lafayette. Purdue was known for taking special interest in students, even paying for the education of those he thought held promise.

It's said Purdue sat outside University Hall, then called the Main Building, during its final construction in 1874. That same year, the first students arrived on campus. University Hall is the only building remaining of the original six-building Purdue campus.

The Iron Key class conceptualized its statue project in November 2011.

At the end of spring 2012, the society requested artists' proposals. Fifteen artists from across the country answered the call. The society decided to hire Illinois-based sculptor Julie Rotblatt-Amrany, who finished the sculpture in December 2012. The statue has been on campus in storage since Dec. 21.

To install the statue on the West Lafayette campus, the society worked with members of the Office of the Dean of Students, the University Development Office, Libraries, the Office of Marketing and Media, Physical and Capital Planning, Physical Facilities and the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.

Writer: Amanda Hamon, 49-41325, ahamon@purdue.edu

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