June 3, 2012
Founded in 1894 by Henry Harrison Culver, Culver Academy is where one of our dearest family members, Andrea, will be graduating today. Originally started as a military school for young men in 1894, it’s been coeducational since 1971 when the girls academy was created. Culver Academies is actually several schools in one – a military academy, a girls academy, and a summer school.
Located on the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee, the Culver Academy campus footprint is nearly as large as the lake itself spread over 1700 acres. Lake Max, as it’s nicknamed by the locals, is the second largest natural lake in Indiana, and in the summer it’s a popular getaway for Chicagoans and Culver alumni.
With only a portion of the campus devoted to the Academy, much of Culver is spread out over the hillsides and through the trees of the outlaying countryside, providing fields for the largest herd of horses in the nation – the Black Horse Troop, Summer Camp, and other outdoor activities. 230 buildings make up the facilities at Culver. Steeped in history and tradition, the unique Gothic architecture of the buildings emphasize Culver’s collegiate ambiance.
Since 1897, Culver’s Horsemanship Program has taught students wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice. Culver students rode for the first time in a presidential inaugural parade in 1913 and they’ve participated in 16 others including George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s. Culver’s Vaughn Equestrian Center is home to the largest cavalry unit in the United States stabling nearly 100 horses. It also houses one of the largest scholastic indoor riding arenas in the United States.
The Memorial Chapel is a tribute to the 6,500 Culver men who served in the Armed Forces from 1941 to 1945. Designed by American architect Jens Frederick Larson, construction of the chapel began in April 1950, with the cornerstone being laid on October 22 of the same year and the formal dedication on October 21, 1951. The pipe organ in the chapel was originally built in 1951 by the M.P. Möller company of Hagerstown, Maryland. Since then, it has undergone several tonal modifications and restoration work. The carillon in the tower of the Chapel consists of 51 bells, ranging in weight from 11 1/2 pounds to 6,459 pounds. It was the last installation of a carillon in North America by the Gillett and Johnston foundry of Croydon, England.
The artist who plays the carillon is John Gouwens. He joined the faculty of Culver Academies in the fall of 1980. He serves as Organist and Carillonneur, playing for Sunday religious services as well as presenting recitals on both instruments. He also teaches the carillon and the organ to students on occasion. Mr. Gouwens was kind enough to talk to us at length about this remarkable instrument. The carillon has undergone restoration work in the years since then, with the most recent upgrades to it’s pedal springs in
We gather for the graduation ceremonies. A tradition started at the 1975 Commencement, the Graduation Arch is the portal through which each graduating senior walks signifying passage from Culver to her future. On the other side, she is greeted by the Legion president, who welcomes her to the alumni association. When the students first came to Culver, they passed through the Logansport Gate entrance to the school and over the Leadership Plaza. Like passing through the arch at graduation, both traditions symbolize the passing of the student through the phases of life.
When Andrea graduated, she first signed a registry and then walked under the arch. The registry is a book that senior girls sign during the graduation ceremony and provides a historical record of the order in which girls graduated. The Keeper of the Book is elected annually and is responsible for the graduation registry during the graduation ceremony. The graduating senior girls elect a freshman to serve in the honorary role.
The Huffington Library is a remarkable 47,000 sq ft library that was dedicated on October 1, 1993. Michael Huffington, a graduate of Culver in 1965, and his family provided much of the funding to begin construction of the library. Michael and the late architect Paul Kennon collaborated on the design of the building. Their goal was to create a structure that offers students a sense of grandeur while they study so they can dream big.
The building provides a southern terminus to the academic quadrangle while affording library patrons a scholarly atmosphere and idyllic view of Lake Maxinkuckee.
The library houses a collection of approximately 55,000 volumes and the latest in information technology to cross reference them. A section of the library features published books by Culver Alumni.
The Huffington library is a splendid Greco-Roman architectural gem that blends harmoniously into the grand Culver campus.