Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Niggemeyer Memorial Arch and Victory Bell

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Institution Name: Coe College
Original/Historic Place Name: Coe College Victory Bell
Location on Campus: Front of Eby
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1914original construction (wooden tower and bell) Unknown
1944tower dismantled; bell put into storage
1947original construction of stone arch; re-installation of bell
1958arch dismantled; arch and bell put into storage
1966arch reassembled and relocated; re-installation of bell
1975replacement of bell
2000replacement of bell again
Type of Place: Landscape site
Type of landscape–
Small-scale features:
The Memorial is a stone archway with a large steel alloy bell (the Victory Bell) in the center.
Large-scale features:
The Memorial is a stone archway with a large steel alloy bell (the Victory Bell) in the center.
Other characteristics:
Materials: limestone and steel alloy of 1,000 lbs.
1914-1944other (rung to signal sports victory)
1947-present (2007)other (rung by freshman during orientation and then again by the students as seniors at commencement)
1947-present (2007)other (rings to signal football victory)

Significance: culture, history, landscape
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The original Coe College Victory Bell hung from a wooden tower located behind the old women's gymnasium. First erected in 1914, it stood until 1944 when it was dismantled because the wooden tower was deemed "rotten and possibly dangerous." From 1944 to 1947 the bell remained in storage. The victory bell returned in 1947 with the addition of the Donald H. Niggemeyer Memorial Arch.

The Niggemeyer Memorial Arch is a stone tower donated in the memory of Donald H. Niggemeyer by members of the Coe 22. The Coe 22 was a group of Coe men who had attended officer training school and graduated early from Coe because they were commissioned for World War II. Niggemeyer, the only member of Coe 22 not to return from war, was killed on October 26, 1944. The surviving members of the Coe 22 donated the Arch in his memory. Originally the Arch and Victory Bell were placed behind Sinclair Chapel. However, in 1958 both had to be dismantled for the construction of Marquis Hall. Each stone was numbered to ensure the proper reassembly in front of Eby Fieldhouse in 1966.

Years of celebratory ringing have been hard on the college's Victory Bell. The bell cracked in 1972, and what had once been a victorious ring became little more than a dull clunk. A new bell, weighing a half ton and forty inches in diameter, was installed in 1975. After nearly a quarter century's faithful service the replacement bell expired meeting the same fate as the first, but sounding, perhaps, even worse. In the fall 2000, Coe College celebrated the installation of its third Victory Bell.

Throughout the history of Coe College the victory bell has held a special place in the hearts of students, faculty, and staff. The bell was originally rung as a sign of another Kohawk victory on the playing fields. However, as the history of Coe grows so do the traditions. A more recent tradition is for incoming freshmen to ring the bell at orientation and then again as graduating seniors at commencement. Regardless of the number of times rung and the amount of time spent in storage the Memorial Arch and Victory Bell remains part of important traditions at Coe College.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Douma, Grace Hartzell. Coe Courier, Centennial Edition. Cedar Rapids, IA: Coe College, 1951.

Henry, George T. Coe College: A Sesquicentennial Look Through 50 Years of George Henry Photography. Cedar Rapids, IA: WDG Communications, 2000.

Henry, George T. Photographs of Coe College Campus and Buildings. Stewart Memorial Library Archives, Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA.

Laugen, Jack, and Florence Winkler. Coe at 125. Cedar Rapids, IA: Coe College Development Office, 1976.

Voorhees, Oscar M. Ralph and Elizabeth Rodman Voorhees: A Tribute. New York: Tribute Press, 1927.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections

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Last update: November 2006