November/December 1999
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Rothwell family gift to MU latest in 100+year association

by Jon Stemmle

GFranklin Rothwell IV's roots run deep at the University of Missouri. Born in Moberly, Rothwell's family ties with MU date back to its beginnings.

His great-great grandfather, Gideon Rothwell, was a Missouri congressman who, in 1892 as president of the MU Board of Curators after the Academic Hall fire, led the charge to save the Columns from being torn down.

The 1893 biennial report of the MU board of curators reflected Rothwell's sentiment:

Columns in 1892.
Columns today.
The Columns (above top) as they stood on Jan. 10, 1892, the day after Academic Hall burned down. Gideon Rothwell, head of the MU board of curators at the time, led the fight to preserve the Columns. A little over 100 years later, Rothwell's great-great grandson , G. Franklin Rothwell, donated $50,000 to the Landscape Development Program to make sure the Columns (above) continue to be a Missouri landmark into the next century.

"The magnificent and imposing columns of the old building stand in the center of the court (Francis Quadrangle) and will be left standing - a sacred ruin and sad momument to the lives of the old students, a monument of progress to the new. When the Legislature shall provide the means, the court will be cleared and graded and put in tasteful harmony with all the surroundings, new and old."

Rothwell, now a successful law partner in Washington, D.C., has continued the work of his great-great grandfather by establishing this fall, with a gift of $50,000, the Rothwell Family Columns Preservation Endowed Fund. This endowment is the first major gift to MU's Landscape Development Program and will be used for the continued preservation of the Columns and beautification of its surroundings.

"This most generous gift is indicative of the leadership that generations of Mr. Rothwell's family have provided to the University of Missouri," said Tom Flood, superintendent of Campus Facilities' Landscape Services.

Columns Preservation

Work sought by Gideon Rothwell and members of the MU Board of Curators to preserve the Columns began early.

Following the 1893 proclamation, engineers were brought in to assess the condition of the fire-branded ruins. According to MU archives, sub-soil work showed that the Columns rested upon a "rubble masonry wall" and were separated by inverted archways filled in with the brick.

The rubble masonry foundation was coated with cement and bricks were removed from the archways between the Columns.

By removing the bricks, the elevation between the Columns was lowered four feet, improving the line of sight across the Quadrangle to the present view generations of visitors to the university have come to know.

The most recent restorative project on the Columns was in 1997 when caps were placed atop each column to act as a seal to prevent water from seeping in, thereby maintaining the stone's integrity.

Rothwell and the Columns today

The origins of Rothwell's recent gift to the Landscape Development Program can be traced to Michael Kateman, former director of MU's Graham Center for Estate Planning and Endowments, and now the executive director for advancement for the College of Arts and Sciences.

Rothwell contacted Kateman and expressed his desire to continue his family's legacy of preserving the Columns. The two then discussed the matter and action was taken to set up a charitable remainder trust, out of which an endowment to preserve the Columns would be funded.

"Mike contacted me about Rothwell's idea and thought the Landscape Development Program was ideal," said Flood. "We discussed how this would fit in nicely with "The Gardens on the Francis Quadrangle" project we are currently undertaking. Mike visited with Mr. and Mrs. Rothwell in Maryland and a few weeks later we received the paperwork for the trust."

Once sufficient donations are secured, "The Gardens on the Francis Quadrangle" project will double the square footage of the existing perennial display gardens to a total of 30,000 square feet.

"Gifts like this are wonderful for all the parties involved," Flood added. "It's a great way to continue a unique family legacy and add immensely to the beauty and grandeur of the university."

For more information about the Landscape Development Program, call Flood at 882-4240.

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