Spirit Rock Settles Into New Home in Central Quad of Storrs Campus

The iconic rock has had many homes on campus since the 1940s

Workers use a crane to deliver the Spirit Rock to a new home at the South Campus Commons.

Workers from Sullivan Industrial Services use a crane to deliver the Spirit Rock to a new home at the South Campus Commons on May 16, 2024. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The Spirit Rock, a distinctive feature at UConn Storrs for decades, now has a new home in the popular central campus quad near the Student Recreation Center, the new South Campus residence hall, and other landmarks.

Weighing in at more than 11,300 lbs., the rock and its 23,000-lb. base were hoisted Thursday by crane from its previous location near the North Garage and lowered carefully in a spot in the green space to the west of the new residence hall, which opens in August.

The move accomplishes two goals: It places the rock in an area that is both easily accessible and highly visible to students, and resolves pedestrian and vehicle safety issues caused by its previous proximity to the busy Hillside Road rotary.

Its new home is in the well-traveled pedestrian quad that is crisscrossed with sidewalks and bounded on the north by Whitney Road, on the west by the Student Recreation Center and Alsop Residence Hall, and on the south by Gilbert Road.

A crane lifts the UConn Spirit Rock from its current location.
Workers from Sullivan Industrial Services prepare to move the Spirit Rock to its new location at UConn Storrs (Stephanie Reitz/ UConn Photo).

The quad is a popular route to the recreation center, the Homer Babbidge Library, and other nearby amenities. With semi-circle granite benches and Adirondack-style chairs nearby, the green space gives students more room to spread out and socialize while painting the rock, compared to the more constrained location near North Garage.

Today’s Spirit Rock is a smaller piece of a giant rock that once sat where the George Safford Torrey Life Science Building is currently located, and which students and others had painted since at least the 1940s.

The original rock was broken up when construction began on that building in 1958, and the triangular, 7-foot-high piece known today as the Spirit Rock was moved to the corner of North Eagleville and Hillside roads.

It was moved again in the late 1990s – this time to storage on the Depot Campus — when the University built the Lodewick Visitors Center at that location and the nearby North Parking Garage.

That storage, meant to be temporary, ended up lasting until the idea was raised in 2008 to sandblast the old lead-based paint from the rock and return it to the main campus.

It sat at the corner of Hillside Road and Alumni Drive for years until construction began in 2020 on the Science One complex, and was temporarily in a spot next to the garage before moving one year later to the location by the traffic circle.

The University’s rock-painting regulations remain unchanged with this week’s move to the quad. Only actively enrolled UConn students and UConn registered student organizations can paint messages on the rock, and they must wait until the paint is fully dry on the messages of previous groups or individuals before taking their turn.