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Boston College Eagle

virtual exhibit summer 2005 - burns library

Introduction | Adoption | Mascot | Symbol | Conclusion



In October 1954 Boston College received the statue of an eagle that had been in a Japanese garden on the estate of Larz Anderson in Brookline, Massachusetts. The garden was designed and planted in 1907, and a photograph in 1909 clearly shows the eagle. This happened before Anderson’s appointment as ambassador to Japan  (1912-1913). After the deaths of Larz Anderson and his wife Isabel, many possessions of the estate were distributed to people who had worked for the Andersons. They included Augustus (Gus) M. Anderson (no relation), who had been born on the estate and had worked as a private secretary for Isabel Anderson for over 40 years. “Gus” wanted to find a good place for the statue. He had displayed it outside his house but was worried about damage from hurricanes and other storms.  He was a fan of Boston College and knew that its mascot was the eagle. Working with Thomas M. Herlihy, SJ, pastor of St. Ignatius Parish, Gus Anderson donated the statue to the college. We are grateful to Augustus Anderson’s daughter, Betty Anderson Riley, and her cousin, Gerry Hayes, for providing much of this information. The photograph was taken by Isabel Anderson and published in House and Garden magazine and published in 1909. Mrs. Riley  told us about an earlier connection between Isabel Anderson and Boston College: Mrs. Anderson wrote a play, “Dick Whittington,” which BC students performed enthusiastically in the 1930’s.

In 1957, Boston College received the column and base of the Admiral George Dewey Memorial from the city of Boston. The memorial had stood in front of South Station in Dewey Square and was taken down to make way for the Central Artery project. The column was placed in front of Gasson Hall, at the end of Linden Lane, and the eagle sculpture was mounted on the top. The prominent placement of the statue was clear evidence of the eagle's importance to the identity of the university.

The base of the Dewey Memorial is crafted out of pink granite and is located in the center of the quad that is formed by Lyons, Gasson, Devlin and Fulton Halls. It consists of the sculpted prows of four ships each traveling in one of four different directions. As if made deliberately for Boston College, a carved eagle is on the edge of each ship's prow. A student is pictured here sitting on the base.

A photograph of the eagle on the 30 foot-tall, marble pillar at the end of Linden Lane.

In 1993, the original bronze sculpture was replaced with an exact replica. Due to the harsh New England winters, the original had begun to crack and could not withstand the natural elements for much longer. The work was done by Skylight Studios (Woburn, Massachusetts), a firm that has handled restoration projects for the Museum of Fine Arts. The firm first made cosmetic repairs to the original, then created a mold and finally cast a replica. This photograph shows Tom Cipolla cleaning the sculpture as he created a mold of it. Like the original, the identical replica stands four feet high and has a six-foot wing span.

Photograph by Gary Gilbert, Office of Marketing Communications

Today the eagle sculpture in front of Gasson Hall is one of the most photographed locations on Boston College's campus. It has become almost a rite of passage for proud parents to take photographs of newly admitted students or graduating seniors in front of the statue, with Gasson Hall in the background.

Photograph courtesy of Office of Marketing Communications, Boston College


Introduction | Adoption | Mascot | Symbol | Conclusion


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