Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Rock, The

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Institution Name: Whittier College
Original/Historic Place Name: Rock, The
Location on Campus: Lower Quad
Date(s) of Construction:
1912relocation to campus Crites, Frank Reneker, Nofle White, Milton
Designer: Frank Crites, Nofle Reneker & Milton White
Type of Place: Landscape site
Style: (Glossary)
Significance: education, history, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
1912-present (2006)memorial site (functions as an icon of school spirit; also a monument to the permanence of the institution)

"The Rock" has been a focus of school spirit since its installation by farm boys who brought it to campus in a horse-drawn wagon from Sierra Madre, some eighteen miles away. The effort took so long that on the return trip they stopped to milk some cows along a deserted road in the wee hours of the morning and drank their fill. Generations of Whittier College students have participated in competitions that have determined which class or student organization would emblazon the Rock with its numerals or emblems. Birthday and even anti-war messages also have often found a prominent display on the stone. In addition, the boulder has lent its name to the alumni magazine, "The Rock."

During the 1920s, symbolic stones similar to "The Rock" were installed at other campuses around the country, including UCLA and Brandeis University, in perhaps one example of a fad in higher education.

Despite its claim to represent the permanency of the institution, "The Rock" appears to have eroded over the 92 years it has been in place. The subject is hotly debated, since the Lower Quad was also significantly re-graded during the early 1970s, which may have left less of the boulder above ground.


Arnold, Benjamin F. History of Whittier. Whittier, CA: Western Print Corporation, 1933.

Carter, Coila. "History of Whittier." B. A. thesis, Whittier College, 1908.

Cooper, Charles W. Whittier: Independent College in California. Los Angeles, CA: Ward Ritchie Press, 1967.

Cooper, Charles W. The A. Wardman Story. Whittier, CA: Whittier College, 1961.

Elliott, Charles, Jr. Whittier College: The First Century on the Poet Campus, a Pictorial Remembrance. Redondo Beach, CA: Legends Press, 1986.

Feeler, William Henry. History of Whittier College. M. A. thesis, University of Southern California, 1919.

Harris, Herbert Eugene. The Quaker and the West: The First Sixty Years of Whittier College. [s.l.:] Whittier College, 1948.

Pearce, Phyllis M., Claire G. Radford, and Mary Ann Rummel. Founders and Friends. Whittier, CA: Rio Hondo College Community Services, 1977.


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Last update: November 2006