John Harvard on his pedestal, a traditional symbol for generations of Harvard men, celebrates his fiftieth birthday this spring. The imposing statue in front of University Hall which bears the legend, "John Harvard, Founder, 1638," was cast in bronze by Daniel French and first erected in 1884.
The statue is wholly an imaginary likeness of the first benefactor of the University, after whom it was named. No picture of John Harvard was extant at the time French began his sculpture, so he selected a student thought to resemble the founder, dressed him in Puritan garb, and used him as a model. The statue was the gift of Samuel James Bridges. It stood originally in the delta west of Memorial Hall, but in 1924 it was moved to its present location in the Yard--according to one theory, in order to keep all light out of the Dean's office.