September 22, 2005
Purdue to erect statue of boilermaker near Ross-Ade
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. An 18-foot bronze statue, "The Boilermaker," will be installed on Monday (Sept. 26) at the top of the stairs on North University Drive between the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility and the Mollenkopf Athletic Center at Purdue University.
At 8:30 a.m., the Boilermaker Special and a police escort will lead the truck transporting the statue from the Purdue Airport through campus, where the truck will back down University Drive to the installation site. Traffic on University Drive near the site will be blocked by the crane, which will hoist the statue, until approximately 11 a.m. Spectators are welcome to view the procession and installation.
Jay Cooperider, associate athletics director, said great effort was put into the final design of the statue.
"The statue represents a timeless boilermaker," Cooperider said. "We researched old photographs, records and newspaper articles to find out what real boilermakers wore when they worked in boiler rooms and combined the 19th century notion of a locomotive boilermaker with that of more modern imagery."
In 1891, a newspaper headline chided the "burly boilermakers from Purdue" after the football team recorded a 44-0 victory over rival Wabash College. Newspapers picked up on the term, and the Boilermakers quickly became the university's team name.
Sculptor Jon Hair of Cornelius, N.C., began work on the statue in 2003 on behalf of an anonymous donor who wanted to present Purdue with a statue of the world's largest boilermaker. Hair has constructed statues for several universities and has done commissioned work for the U.S. Olympic Team.
Hair said the statue should serve as a monument for generations of future Boilermakers.
"We have bronzes in our country and in the world that are more than 5,000 years old," Hair said. "With the technological advances we have today, bronze statues can last 10,000 years. It's neat to think the statue could have that kind of longevity."
The process by which Hair constructed the statue is complex. Sketches first were submitted to a committee for approval. A maquette, or miniature version of the statue, was then built and reviewed by the committee. The enlargement process followed, during which a mold was made from wood and Styrofoam and covered in clay. The clay was then carved into what the final version of what the statue would look like.
After numerous additional steps, several ceramic molds were made from the clay sculpture. Bronze was poured into each mold and left to harden. The ceramic material was hammered off, and each of the bronze castings was welded together. For a statue such as "The Boilermaker," there were nearly 100 separate pieces that were welded. After the statue was assembled, it was torched, and chemicals were applied to change the color and preserve it.
Hair said that after such a laborious process, he will be happy to have put a small stamp on the home of the Boilermakers.
"I am proud to have a piece of art at such a prestigious university as Purdue," Hair said.
The statue will be dedicated at 2 p.m. Nov. 4 to celebrate the completion of the phase one renovation of Ross-Ade Stadium. Purdue President Martin C. Jischke and Morgan J. Burke, director of intercollegiate athletics, will make remarks about the statue and the tradition it represents.
Writer: Marydell Forbes, (765) 496-7704, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Morgan J. Burke, (765) 494-3189, email@example.com
Jay Cooperider, (765) 494-3197, (765) 427-2221 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Christopher, John Purdue Club director, (765) 494-8506, email@example.com
Jon Hair, (704) 892-7203
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; firstname.lastname@example.org
A publication-quality photo of "The Boilermaker" is available at: http://news.uns.purdue.edu/uns/images/+2005/boilerstatue-installed.jpg
A publication-quality photo of "The Boilermaker" is available at: http://news.uns.purdue.edu/uns/images/+2005/boiler-statue.jpg
A publication-quality photo of "The Boilermaker" is available at: http://news.uns.purdue.edu/uns/images/+2005/boilermaker-statue.jpg
To the News Service home page