Location: Bowdoin / Magazine / Insider / Slideshows / 2010 / Leaving a Mark on the Chapel Door

Slideshows: Leaving a Mark on the Chapel Door

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The chapel door (and door frame) on the north side of the entry has accumulated graffiti for more than a century. There is probably less tradition involved than a long history of opportunity for leaving a mark on campus.  Until the mid 1960s students were expected to attend chapel services (the history is documented in Ernst Helmreich's Religion at Bowdoin College: A History, published in 1981).  Up until the 1950s there was also a tradition of ringing the chapel bells after an athletic victory, and students used to race to the chapel to be the one to pull on the bell rope.  From the completion of the Chapel in 1855 until about 1955 there were persistent attempts to hang a freshman class banner or hang a freshman beanie from one of the spires.  A successful attempt would stop all hazing.  Several students scaled one or the other of the towers, including Donald B. MacMillan [1898] and Frank Noyes '17.  A group of students from the Class 1956 maneuvered a beanie to the top of a spire using a hot air balloon.  The Chapel also saw overnight pranks as well - a Model T reassembled from parts in the broad aisle of the Chapel and the placing of the memorial flagpole the length of the aisle in 1930.  One of the inscriptions on the door (in pencil) is by "Flagpole Ike" and celebrates the night of the great rebellion - a reference to the flagpole incident).

—John Cross '76

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