Something’s been missing from Rufus Burleson’s statue for decades
Since 1905, a statue of legendary Baylor President Rufus Burleson has stood watch over the Baylor quadrangle that bears his name. It’s seen millions of students, professors, parents and visitors pass through campus. But for years — so long that nobody quite knows how long — he’s been standing without one of his key personal effects: his cane.
In 2014, Baylor embarked on a campus-wide effort to check every statue on campus to see what repairs might be needed. They came to find that the Burleson statue was holding the tip of a broken cane in his hand.
Few Bears around campus today even remembered that the Burleson statue had once held a cane, but sure enough, old photographs confirmed it. The best guess is that generations of people grabbing the cane to climb up for a photo weakened it to the point that it eventually snapped — an occurrence that likely took place decades ago, and was simply forgotten.
To restore Burleson to his former glory, Baylor hired Deep in the Heart Foundry, one of the top bronze sculptors in Texas. With no original design documents and no original artist to guide them, the repair crew worked to restore the Burleson statue using a photo taken by Fred Gildersleeve at least 60 years ago. The repair crew also tightened Burleson’s metal top hat, which (like the cane) likely had come loose from a century of tugs, and fixed several other cracks in the statue.
If you’re interested in more detail about the statue and its repairs, check out this lengthy post on the Baylor Arts & Sciences blog. And the next time you’re on campus, stop by old Rufus and take a closer look for yourself.
Sic ’em, Rufus Burleson!