Rothwell family gift to MU latest in 100+year association
by Jon Stemmle
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
The 1893 biennial report of the MU board of curators reflected
|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
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
"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
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
"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
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.