Encyclopedia Brunoniana


The Well figured prominently in the social life of the college through most of the nineteenth century. There were actually two wells, one in back of Hope College, and one near the southeast corner of University Hall. Sanitary conditions were not good, and, although there was never a major epidemic at the College, several students died from typhoid in the 1860s. The University Hall well came to be shunned because of its proximity to the privy, and the Hope College well became the sole source of water. Students were accustomed to amuse themselves by swinging the bucket or removing it altogether. In 1868, when the registrar, tired of this mischief, refused to provide a new bucket after one of the disappearances, the students staged the long-remembered “water procession,” carrying their mugs, tubs, pitchers and other vessels to be filled at the well in the middle of College Street and then marching downtown (accompanied by the American Brass Band) to attract the attention of the townspeople. Not too long afterward the well curb succumbed to one of its many midnight fires and the well was covered by a stone and fitted with a pump. Plumbing was introduced into the basement of University Hall after the renovation of the building in 1883. As a reminder of former days, one of the old pumps stands on the campus behind Hope College.