Statue of Bishop Brownell
Originally published in The Reporter, fall 2016.
The statue of Bishop Thomas Church Brownell has stood proudly in the center of Trinity College’s Main Quad since 1878, commemorating the College’s founder and first president. Brownell’s grave was the statue’s original home before Brownell’s son-in-law, Gordon W. Burnham, gifted it to Trinity. An impressive work of art, the bronze likeness was designed in Rome by sculptor Chauncey Bradley Ives and cast in Munich by Ferdinand von Miller Foundry. Tucked ’neath the elms, the monument soars to the treetops with the sculpture and its granite pedestal measuring nearly 30 feet tall. The statue depicts the venerable Brownell wearing the official clothing of the clergy at the time; he also grasps a prayer book in his right arm, while his left arm remains outstretched. His pose shows him in an act of prayer, as though performing an Episcopal benediction upon his beloved Trinity. The unveiling ceremony for the statue took place in November 1869 at the College’s original campus in downtown Hartford, with Trinity students gathering alongside clergy, faculty, and invited guests to form a procession to the monument while singing: “God of our fathers! by whose hand / Thy people still are blest, / Be with us through our pilgrimage, / Conduct us to our rest.” This unveiling would be the first of many gatherings at the base of the statue as each year the Trinity community reunites with its founding father during several events, including Convocation and Commencement. Says Georgianna Wynn ’16, “Standing among us year after year, he is the symbol of the beginning and the end of our time at Trinity College.”