Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
Gravity Stone, 1961
|In 1961 the Gravity Stone or Gravity Monument was placed on the north side of Barnum Hall facing Ballou Hall. The stone's placement on campus was one of the stipulations Roger W. Babson added when he made a sizable donation to Tufts which was meant for research in the field of gravity.|
Mr. Babson was a stock market genius and an enthusiast of the study of gravition. He made several donations to numerous universities with the hopes that the money would advance the study of gravity. His efforts to find institutions of research extended so far that Mr. Babson himself founded three schools, including Babson College. The stone itself is made of solid granite and is estimated to weigh anywhere from 2000 to 3,200 pounds
Since the stone's arrival in 1961, it has fulfilled more than just an aesthetic role on campus. In years past the stone was more mythical and held a place in on-campus folklore. In 1962 a group of students and employees of Buildings and Grounds tested whether or not the stone itself would defy gravity by digging a large hole underneath the stone. The group observed that even the great Gravity Stone succumbed to the all-powerful forces of which its carvings preach. The group then simply left the stone buried until another group of students and groundskeepers took it upon themselves to dig up the stone and replace it to its original location. Thus began a cycle of burying and digging up the stone which was continued for several years. In 1968 the burying was done yet again, but in this instance the perpetrators were a group of workers building a sidewalk between Barnum and Ballou who buried the stone because it was in the path of their sidewalk. It remained in its secret tomb until 1971 when the Tufts Mountain Club allegedly unearthed the stone by sheer accident the night before commencement. After the infamous fire in Barnum Hall of 1975 the stone was moved to an area behind Cousens Gym. Finally, in 1977 the administration confiscated the stone and removed it to an undisclosed location after an incident where students had blocked the doors of Barnum Hall with the monument as a prank the night before commencement.
The stone was returned to its current location between Eaton Hall and Goddard Chapel in the early 1980's and has not had any unapproved movements since then. The inscription on the stone reads, "THIS MONUMENT HAS BEEN ERECTED BY THE GRAVITY RESEARCH FOUNDATION. ROGER W. BABSON FOUNDER.IT IS TO REMIND STUDENTS OF THE BLESSINGS FORTHCOMING WHEN A SEMI-INSULATOR IS DISCOVERED IN ORDER TO HARNESS GRAVITY AS A FREE POWER AND REDUCE AIRPLANE ACCIDENTS. 1964"