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Heritage Tower: The Torch
by William Nelson

While the Heritage Tower fountain or "the Torch" is a relatively new feature on FSU’s campus, its roots are deep in the history of Florida State University. 

heritage tower
The fountain was constructed near the University Center in 1998, while the university center itself was being constructed. It was named the Heritage Tower due to the people who gave it and what is supposed to represent. The word heritage can be defined as a way of life or traditional culture that is passed from one generation to the next, and by this definition torch represents the traditions and culture that has been shared by the students of FSU and FSCW over the years. This gift not only continued in the class gift tradition that was established at FSCW, but also reflected on the strong ties between the University and its alumnae.

The Torch was a presented to FSU from the graduating classes of 1946, 1947, and 1948.  These classes represent a transitional time when FSCW changed into FSU.  The class of 1946 is considered the last true class of FSCW. While the class of 1947 started to see the change from an all women's school to a coed one and also was the first class to reach over 1,000. The graduate’s diplomas of this year were the only ones to read both FSCW and FSU on it.  Since the introduction of the GI bill men had been slowly let into FSCW since the end of WW2 in 1945, but it was not until 1947 that they were integrated into the school itself as full students. Finally the class of 1948 is considered the first real class of FSU and the dedication of the fountain in 1998 marked the fiftieth year of the school.  The credit of the idea of this monument goes to four very important people, who without their efforts the fountain would never have been possible. First, there was Sarah Lewis Marxson who was the class president and graduated in 1947. Then there was Mary Lou Norwood who graduated in 1947 and was the Gift Chair; she also was one of the main people involved in the publication of Femina Perfecta (a history of FSCW). Following them was Shirly Rodgers Tellander and Frances Cannon who gradated in 1947 and 1948 respectively. While these wonderful people rigorously engaged in fund raising, this included not just people from the classes of 46’- 48’, but all the previous classes of FSCW.  When it was said and done over 1,200 individuals contributed to the fountain.  Larry Rubin, project manager for the University center, and Mark Bertolami, FSU facilities planning, were the people behind the scenes getting the project approved.  Also David Fronzak of Barnett and Fronczak Aritects donated his firm for the design and planning of the fountain.  Fronczack appointed Brant Chaissan to work with a committee of about fifteen people who graduated between 46` and 48` to come up with a design, however, Fronczak took over the project during the construction.

The design of the fountain echoes the collegiate gothic style of the older buildings on campus and each facet of the fountain represented something from the University and this transitional period. The top of the fountain is dawned with the classic three torches (a symbol adopted in 1909) sitting on top of both the seals for FSU and FSCW.  The arches are meant to represent the entering and exiting of students from FSU and the flowing waters are supposed to represent the passage of time, which flows into a pool at the base which is supped to represent FSU and the campus. Also buried in the fountain itself are materials that document the history of FSU and FSCW. The Latin inscription on the torch "Vires, Artes, Mores" is the physical, mental and moral ideal and purpose of higher education. torches

  Heritage tower


Laurie, Murray D. Guide to FSU and Tallahassee. Pineapple Press inc. Sarasota, 1999.
Heritage Tower: “The Torches”, A Commemorative Publication. April 18, 1998

Photographs by William Nelson

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