Even as one of the most recognizable buildings on Southeast, you may not know everything about the Academic Hall dome. Check out these amazing facts and get to know the history behind this iconic symbol.
There Are Historic Pieces Inside
The dome’s original finial and carillon are currently housed in the dome on the mezzanine level. The finial is shaped like a pineapple, which is the international symbol for hospitality, and sat atop Academic Hall for over 100 years. The carillon was used to play the bells that rang across campus for over 50 years, and when an electronic one was installed, it was moved up to the dome. And, if you take the stairs up, you’ll see a chandelier that was used at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904. Pretty neat, huh?
It Used To Be A Lot Harder To Reach
If you want to see the dome today, it’s a pretty easy journey. You can either take the elevator or the stairs, arrive in the mezzanine, and call it a day. Prior to its renovation and reopening in 2013, however, the dome was much less accessible. Getting there meant crawling through the back of a janitor’s closet, climbing over some beams, and arriving into a completely wooden space.
The Windows Used To Open
This one’s got a great story behind it. The dome has beautiful windows all around it, and they offer some great views of campus and the surrounding areas and apparently, some mischievous students thought so as well. During a John Philip Sousa concert that passed right in front of Academic, a few students snuck up into the dome and onto the roof to watch. They were caught, and the windows were sealed shortly after.
There Are Some Pretty Famous Signatures
If you’ve ever seen the inside of the dome, you know that there are many, many people that have left their mark in chalk. But keep your eyes peeled for a celebrity sighting; Anderson Cooper, Ozzie Smith, and Shawn Johnson East have all signed, as have former NFL players (and Southeast alumni) Dan Connolly and Eugene Amano.
There are 73 Beams in the Dome
If you stand in the middle of the dome room, a couple things happen. First, there is an echo that only you can hear. Second, you can attempt to count the support beams that circle the dome. We’ve lost count plenty of times, but the official number is 73, which has no correlation to our founding year, but is a pretty cool coincidence anyway.