Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
College History



Pike Memorial Bird Feeder

In 1937, alumnae donated the bird-feeding station and a small endowment for seed in memory of Clara Pike. Donations came from the Class of 1901 and all classes between 1868 and 1905. A granite bench and a bird-feeding station, designed by Ralph Adams Cram, were installed at the northeast corner of the Library. Its stand recalls Chinese bracketed supports, whereas the acroteria on its roof are Classical motifs; the copper roof and ball finial are more typical of Colonial Revival designs.

Ralph Adams Cram spoke at the dedication of the memorial he had designed, on class day, 19 June 1937; Pike had been Cram's first teacher, and taught his daughter Edith Cram, class of 1881-83. Approval for the memorial came only at the end of a lengthy battle with President Park, who called the determined donors the "Pikers." In 1939, Beatrice Brown W1901 wrote, "To many of us Miss Pike's Memorial constitutes a living bond between the Seminary era and the glorious College of today."

W.C. Curtis, the "celebrated wild gardener of South Sudbury," of the “Garden in the Woods,” designed the original landscaping, which included flowering apple and cherry trees, larches and yews, in 1938. The area was re-landscaped in 1946. In 1987, when the area in front of the Library was re-landscaped in connection with the completion of the Balfour-Hood Center, the birdfeeder was repaired and moved to the northwest corner of the Library. The stone bench was returned to a position near the birdfeeder in 1994, when the Rice Garden was re-landscaped and renamed.

Seminary Catalogues of the period note that the method of teaching the Natural Sciences depended upon “original investigation” and observation. Students spent time each week familiarizing themselves with the local flora and fauna. Ornithological, geological and herbaria collections were used for study, and students learned “the facts of Chemistry chiefly by their own experiments.” Physiology was facilitated by a “choice collection of models”.


Comments are closed.