The statue of Joseph Baldwin that stands near the south end of the Quad was erected in honor of our founder’s 100th birthday, October 31, 1927. The total $6,000 cost of the project was funded by donations from students, faculty & staff, alumni and the citizens of Kirksville. It was the work of sculptor Leonard Crunelle and was cast by the American Art Bronze Foundry, Chicago. Several members of the Baldwin family were present at the unveiling and dedication on October 20, 1927.
The planning committee’s first choice for the sculptor was artist Lorado Taft, who had recently lectured on campus. Although he was unable to accept the commission, he made some helpful suggestions and recommended his protégée, Leonard Crunelle, who agreed to create from photographs a 7 foot bronze figure mounted on a 5 foot granite pedestal.
The committee had gotten a late start on the project and by the time the contract was signed at the end of July, Crunelle had only three months to complete the work before Baldwin’s birthday. He didn’t really expect to finish on time – and he didn’t. He had sculpted the figure but was unable to get the bronze casting done before the scheduled dedication, so sent his son to Kirksville with a plaster cast painted bronze to be used for the unveiling. The completed statue was received and set in place the following April, in time for Commencement and the beginning of a new campus tradition, the laying of the wreath.
The site selected for the statue represented a joining of the old and the new. It was placed at the point where the southern end of the old bridge across Normal Pond had been located, and was just north of the east-west sidewalk between the two newest buildings, Pickler Memorial Library and Kirk Auditorium. The specific spot was selected by Lorado Taft who also suggested that the statue face south to get the best effect from the sun’s light. Though it was not the primary consideration, the fact that Baldwin was standing near and facing the site of his old Normal School building was an added sentimental bonus.