Purdue News

November 3, 2005

Purdue dedicates 'The Boilermaker' statue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – "The Boilermaker," an 18-foot, 5,400-pound bronze statue, was dedicated Friday (Nov. 4) at Purdue University.

Statue dedication
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The dedication took place at the base of the statue on North University Drive between the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility and the Mollenkopf Athletic Center. As part of the dedication, the university will honor Eugene R. Grotnes and his family for their strong ties to Purdue. The statue will be dedicated in memory of Grotnes' father, Carl.

"The Grotnes family represents the same roll-up-your-sleeves and get-the-job-done attitude that 'The Boilermaker' depicts," said Purdue President Martin C. Jischke. "It is this tireless work ethic and intergenerational Purdue pride that we will celebrate."

Eugene Grotnes of Atlanta, Ga., graduated from Purdue with a mechanical engineering degree in 1951. His father, Carl C. Grotnes, was born in Chicago in 1895 shortly after Eugene's grandfather, Charles Grotnes, emigrated there from Norway and established the Charles Grotnes Machine Works. After Carl graduated from Lane Tech High School, he joined his father's business. Together, Charles and Carl developed some of the first machines for producing rims for the automobile, truck and agricultural industries.

"The Boilermaker"
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In the 1940s, more than 90 percent of rims in the United States were produced on Grotnes machines. As the container industry moved from wooden barrels to steel drums, Carl invented new machines. He was the first to design a machine to form the "rolling hoops" process that is still used today.

Carl Grotnes, who died at the age of 94, had several patents and was honored by Rice University in Houston for his contribution to the industry. His name still is well-known throughout the world in the industries he pioneered.

Three generations of the Grotnes family have since brought their work ethic to Purdue. Eugene Grotnes' wife, Nancy, received a bachelor's degree in consumer and family sciences. Their son, Carl C. Grotnes II, graduated with a mechanical engineering degree in 1975. Two of Eugene and Nancy's grandsons, Carl "Cal" C. Grotnes III and Alan Grotnes, are currently enrolled at Purdue in the colleges of Liberal Arts and Technology.

"The Boilermaker" was commissioned on behalf of an anonymous donor. The first use of the term in connection with the Purdue football team was in 1891, but the statue is an interpretation of period and modern boilermakers and skilled tradesmen. Sculptor Jon Hair of Cornelius, N.C., began work on the $500,000 statue in 2003. The statue was installed in September.

Hair is among the country's most highly commissioned monumental sculptors, with 16 major public art commissions in the last four years alone. A member of the National Sculpture Society, Hair's sculptures have appeared in galleries, private collections and on a growing number of corporate and college campuses. Among Hair's many awards is a Gold Award in the Broadcast Design Art Directors' International Design Competition. In 2003 he was designated an "Official Sculptor To The U.S. Olympic Team" and an "Official Sculptor To The U.S. Olympic Committee."

Writer: Marydell Forbes, (765) 496-7704, mforbes@purdu.edu

Sources: Morgan J. Burke, director of Intercollegiate Athletics, (765) 494-3189, mjb@purdue.edu

Jay Cooperider, associate athletics director, (765) 494-3197, (765) 427-2221 (cell), coop@purdue.edu

Greg Christopher, John Purdue Club director, (765) 494-8506, gchristoper@purdue.edu

Jon Hair, (704) 892-7203

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


Related Web site:
Purdue University Intercollegiate Athletics


Related news release:
Purdue to erect statue of boilermaker near Ross-Ade


Members of the Grotnes family and Purdue officials took part in a dedication ceremony Friday (Nov. 4) for "The Boilermaker," a new statue located between the Intercollegiate Athletic Facility and the Mollenkopf Athletic Center. Eugene R. Grotnes of Atlanta, Ga., and his family were honored for their strong ties to Purdue at the event, and the statue was dedicated in memory of Eugene Grotnes' father, Carl. Three generations of the Grotnes family have attended or are currently enrolled at Purdue. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photo is available at https://www.purdue.edu/uns/images/+2005/boilerstatue-family.jpg


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