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July 2015


Dear Abbot Pennings, 

How did the St. Norbert College arch come into being?

Sarah Kick ’17


My dear Sarah,

Thank you for your inquiry. I find I’m simply astounded that this interesting question has not been asked of me before now!

The St. Norbert College arch that so beautifully frames the approach to Main Hall is unquestionably high on the list of desirable backgrounds for students, alumni, families and others seeking photographic mementoes of their time on campus. As a matter of fact, I have heard tell that alumni couples have found this scene on campus to be unmatched for their proposals of marriage!

Those who have frequented campus within the last two decades might easily believe that the arch has been a part of our cherished campus for quite some time. However, it was not until 1993 that the structure came into being, satisfying a long-felt need for a clearly defined entrance to the college. Long-felt indeed, since this was some 95 years after my founding of the college!

The iconic 1,400 pound wrought-iron structure adorned with hand-pounded bronze leaves was designed by a Wisconsin craftsman by the name of Robert Bergman. It was officially dedicated on Sept. 15, 1993. The arch gives way to the paved path lined with linden tress that extends from Third Street to Main Hall. This area is named the Frederick and Patricia Baer Mall in honor of a fine couple who, in true Norbertine fashion, demonstrated a life of community service through their commitment to meeting spiritual and humanitarian needs. 

I encourage my readers to continue to send similar inquiries my way. It is always my delight to receive such correspondence. Responding to your queries is an excellent exercise for my elderly mind, as well as furnishing me with a most welcome excuse for reflecting upon the history of our remarkable institution. 

Responses to “Ask the Abbot” questions are penned by St. Norbert College staff in the name of Abbot Bernard Pennings, O.Praem., who founded St. Norbert College in 1898. 

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