Ramming Harold


When Chris Love, the Alumni Association’s executive director, tells Chicago alumni where the new Alumni House is located, she often explains that it’s the old McCormick Theological Seminary building at 56th and Woodlawn—the one that used to have Harold the ram out front. “Oh, where is Harold?” they ask. Apparently many alumni remember John Kearney’s ram sculpture made from chrome car bumpers.

Harold has moved to University Ave. just north of 55th St, perched atop the steps to the seminary’s own new home. Though his venue has changed, his appeal to pranksters has not. “I don’t know if they’re trying to steal him, to dress him, to tip him like a cow, or what,” says Natasha Gaines, administrative assistant to McCormick’s vice president of finance and operations. “But people seem to play pranks on him about every two weeks”—currently one of his horns is missing, and the McCormick work crew, Gaines notes, “just bolted him down yesterday once again.”

Even Harold’s arrival in Hyde Park was a prank. As the story goes, when McCormick moved from Lincoln Park to the South Side in 1975, many outdoor sculptures adorning the seminary’s original block-long quarters were left behind. Some students, missing Harold (nicknamed after the seminary’s student newsletter, the Herald, and so spelled by some admirers), liberated him late at night, hoisting him into a rented U-Haul and planting him at the 5555 S. Woodlawn address. Administrators demanded that the guilty parties step forward, but no one ever did.

The sculpture quickly became steeped in shenanigans, decorated or stolen by U of C fraternity members during pledge week and ornamented by McCormick students on festive occasions. Today Harold is McCormick’s official logo, embroidered on hats and shirts. And he’s still greeting Hyde Parkers, one horn short of a set.


January 14, 2004