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Eliza Baylies Chapin Wheaton, one of the founders of Wheaton Female Seminary, gave a statue and fountain of Hebe, the Greek cupbearer to the gods, to the seminary in 1884 to mark its fiftieth anniversary. The statue was a lead copy of the original by Bertel Thorwaldsen (1768-1884, Danish), and featured a fountain rising from the cup. The statue reminded the students of the seminary's motto "She who drinks will thirst for more." Representing the spirit of service, Hebe was placed just east of Seminary Hall (now Mary Lyon Hall) and soon became the focus of student traditions, including being the finish line for the senior class hoop roll, and the final resting place for the daisy chain seniors carried during Class Day activities. Later, water jets were added to the pool at the statue's base.
When the original dormitory, Old Metcalf, was replaced in 1932-33 with the Georgian Revival complex of Metcalf and Kilham Halls and Hebe Parlors, the statue-fountain was moved to the resulting courtyard and became its main feature. At one time, a reflecting pool was installed at Hebe's feet, but this feature did not last long. Hebe is still the goal of the Senior Hoop Roll; traditionally the winner will be the first class member to be married. Those already married are supposed to race with a baby carriage! Alumnae tell of another kind of race to Hebe: their dates dashing to Hebe after evening events such as dances or concerts in hopes of claiming a parlor before anyone else; other couples would not invade their privacy.
Hebe was the favorite target of pranksters from men's colleges, especially Brown University. Poor Hebe was literally ripped off her feet more than once! She was abducted so often that at one time an alarm was installed within the statue to alert students and staff of her theft. The original statue was hollow lead, with a solid cup and pitcher, the weight of which also caused damage over time. She was stored in the potato cellar in the 1970s. In 1982, sculptor and Wheaton parent and spouse Fritz Cleary of Interlaken, N.J. replaced the original with a bronze recasting from the original pieces. In preparation for Hebe's re-casting, Wheaton staff held an Irish wake for the original statue, placing her in a casket, wearing mourning, and singing Irish tunes.
Hebe Parlors originally contained one large and twelve small parlors, in which students could entertain their guests. The parlors connected through arched doorways with Metcalf and Kilham Halls, and were named to commemorate dates and people important to Wheaton Seminary and halls in Old Metcalf: Laban, 1835, Seventh Heaven, Tragedy, Comedy, Seminary, Eliza, 1933, Purgatory, Paradise, Broadway, and Boarding House. In 1947 Hebe was remodeled into three small faculty apartments, and during the 1980s into offices. In 1989/90, a small apartment was created for a "Quad Resident."
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