Uncategorized

The Story of Herald, McCormick’s Beloved Mascot

Hey, what is that chrome, rusting, goat-looking thing outside McCormick’s building? That’s Herald the Ram! He’s accompanied McCormick on our journey across Chicago, and continues to grace us with his chromatic presence.

Here’s the story as Mark Wendorf (former McCormick professor) knows it. 1975 was a time of dire financial straits, and McCormick made the difficult decision to sell its property in Lincoln Park and move to the South Side. We took up residence at 56th and Woodlawn in an old frat house (now the Jesuit house), rented classrooms from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), helped start the Jesuit-Krause McCormick (JKM) Library by adding our volumes, and rented student housing from LSTC.

Now, the North Side campus was a beautiful place, an entire city block, with a gym, dorms, chapel, administration building, dining hall, faculty housing, and some beautiful outdoor sculptures that had been specifically designed for the campus. In moving to the South Side, many of these beloved landmarks were left behind in Lincoln Park.

Herald at his former home at 56th and Woodlawn

One late night in the very first week of their residence in Hyde Park, a number of McCormick students were waxing theological at Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap Room (not for the last time) and reminiscing about the old campus. The hour grew very late, the students became more nostalgic, and their inhibitions decreased. Amidst all of the “elbow bending,” someone came up with the idea to liberate Herald the Ram (one of the left-behind statues) from the North Side campus. It would stand in front of the repurposed frat house as the students’ contribution to the move and bring a little bit of home to Hyde Park. Plus, the students would have quite the story to tell for the rest of their lives.

And so, a plan was hatched. Volunteers stepped forward. A U-Haul van was rented and the intrepid liberators drove to the North Side. Under the cover of dark, they hoisted Herald into the truck (with no small amount of difficulty) and delivered him to the front lawn of the new McCormick building at the corner of 56th and Woodlawn. The next morning, he greeted a very surprised administration and faculty, who demanded that those responsible step forward and admit their guilt. Not one liberator ever did confess her/his participation.

Herald the Ram became an important part of McCormick’s presence in Hyde Park. At first, he was the source of many a U of C prank, decorated or stolen during pledge week. Eventually, Herald was bolted and set on concrete pillars buried deep into the ground so that his involuntary movement was limited. He was decorated on festive occasions by the McCormick community, especially at Christmas and the Lenten Feast of Fools. Alums took their picture with Herald during Alum Week, and he became the official mascot of McCormick Theological Seminary, embroidered on hats and t-shirts.

When McCormick moved to our current home at 55th and University, Herald the Ram came with us. This time there was no need for covert-ops transplants; the movers brought him over from 56th and Woodlawn in the light of day with everything else. Herald, the chrome auto-bumper ram, now stands as one of the most recognizable symbols of McCormick, representing the steadfastness of McCormick’s witness among our many wanderings. No matter what the future holds, Herald will be with us.

Many thanks to Mark Wendorf, former professor of Urban Ministry, for recording and preserving this tale throughout the years.