The Memorial Flagpole
McKIM, MEAD AND WHITE
Immediately after the Armistice in 1918, a committee from the Alumni Council met to make recommendations for a suitable war memorial. Suggestions ranged from a window in Memorial Hall to a swimming pool. The final decision was to erect a monument. Early drawings favored a sort of rostrum to be placed on the quadrangle midway between Appleton Hall and the Museum of Art.
In 1919 the College named as the architect McKim, Mead and White, who were already responsible for the Walker Art Building and the Class of 1875 Gate and who would soon design the Curtis Pool and the Moulton Union. The architect's model for the rostrum was displayed in the Museum of Art in 1923, when fund raising began in earnest.
By April 1930 the memorial had taken the shape of a flagpole, to be erected where lines from Hubbard Hall and the Walker Art Building would intersect in the quadrangle. One Saturday night the yet-to-be-erected flagpole was moved into the Chapel by a group of students. The pole more than filled the length of the Chapel, and college employees had great difficulty removing it. A debate ensued, and—unusual for that time—the students prevailed. The site was changed to the present location between the Walker Art Building and Gibson Hall. Dedication was held the following November on Alumni Day.
The square base of the flagpole incorporates a granite seat on all four sides and an area for incised inscriptions with the names picked out in gold of the twenty-nine Bowdoin men who died in World War I. A circular bronze base supports the pole, which is surmounted by a gilded eagle.
Text From: Patricia McGraw Anderson's The Architecture of Bowdoin College (Brunswick, Maine: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 1988). ©Bowdoin College.