"Spurred on" by alumni pressure, the Corporation has decided to restore the railings, pinnacles, spires, and other Gothic ornaments of the roof and tower of Memorial Hall. Work on the $100,000 project will begin early next spring and last about six months, William Bentinck-Smith '37, Assistant to the President, announced yesterday.
The Corporation's unexpected decision reverses its policy of earlier this year, when it maintained that restoration of Memorial Hall was not worth the high sum it wold cost. Since then a small group of local alumni have waged a concerted campaign in favor of restoration. They have written numerous letters to the "Alumni Bulletin" protesting the "shabby neglect" of Memorial Hall, and in October one of them, James Lawrence, Jr. '29, launched an unofficial alumni drive to finance the restoration project.
This embryonic fund campaign was probably decisive in influencing the Corporation's decision, since it involved approaching wealthy men who usually give only to the official alumni drive. The University feared that these donors might resent a second solicitation and therefore cut down their total contribution.
"We decided to pay for this project out of our own pocket and to ask alumni to support only the important things we need," Paul C. Cabot '21, Treasurer of the Corporation, explained last night. The Corporation will take the whole $100,000 needed for the restoration out of its own unrestricted funds, Cabot added.
The University also recognized that many alumni wanted the restoration and in addition had long felt responsible to the builders of the Civil War memorial. As early as 1951 the Corporation commissioned its architects, the Boston firm of Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson & Abbott, to draw up plans for a possible restored tower. These plans will now be used.
The Memorial Hall Tower has been without most of its ornamentation since 1945, when maintenance supervisors found that much of the metalwork was defective and removed it as a safety measure.