Letters to the editor: the case of the missing marble tiger

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By: Dale Buchanan, Class of 1967

All throughout recorded history, there have been objects that were treasured but lost to neglect, theft, looting or a lack of understanding of their significance. These treasured objects include such things as the Ark of the Covenant that contained the tablets that Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai and the eagle of the Ninth Legion of the Roman army, which marched into what was then Caledonia, now Scotland. The Ninth Legion and its eagle were never seen again. In more modern times, the treasured items include the Remington Rolling Block rifle which Gen. George Armstrong Custer allegedly took to the Battle of the Little Bighorn and was never seen again after his death on June 25, 1876.

Within the lifetimes of many of the Towson State College Class of 1967, the priceless panels of the Amber Room were looted by the Nazis from the Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg, Russia. These were never recovered. Very recently, the valuable Tom Brady’s jersey was pilfered from a locker room right after winning the Super Bowl.

But, one does not have to travel around the world to find out about treasured items that have “disappeared.”  The Towson University campus has its own mystery. It was sometime around 1967 that representatives of the Class of 1967 ordered a Carrara marble tiger statue to be carved in Italy and sent to Towson State College in time for graduation.

At the time, there were no tiger statues anywhere on campus nor had there ever been any in recorded memory.  With much anticipation, the tiger statue arrived on-time in May 1967, and members of the class volunteered their labor and devoted themselves to creating a lovely garden between Prettyman and Scarborough residence halls. The Carrara marble tiger statue was placed in among the plants in the garden as if ready to pounce.

Students from the Class of 1967 build a rock garden outside Prettyman and Scarborough halls. Courtesy of TU's Cook Library Digital Archives.
Students from the Class of 1967 build a rock garden outside Prettyman and Scarborough halls. Courtesy of TU’s Cook Library Digital Archives.
Students from the Class of 1967 build a rock garden outside Prettyman and Scarborough halls. Courtesy of TU's Cook Library Digital Archives.
Students from the Class of 1967 build a rock garden outside Prettyman and Scarborough halls. Courtesy of TU’s Cook Library Digital Archives.

The members of the Class of 1967 were so proud to have given such a lasting, significant and appropriate gift to the college, its staff and future students. It was an expression of the gratitude the graduates felt toward Towson State College and its faculty and staff.

The class of 1967 as well as Earle Hawkins, then-Towson State president, took pride in the garden and the tiger statue. During the graduation, Hawkins talked about the Class of 1967’s gift to the college — mentioning that there were no plans to do anything else with the space where the garden and the marble tiger statue were installed.

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An excerpt from the April 3, 1967 edition of The Towerlight that describes the creation of the Carrara marble tiger and its place in the rock garden. Courtesy of Cook Library’s Digital Archives.

On the weekend of June 2-4, the Class of 1967 is planning to have its 50th class reunion, and many of the events will be on the Towson University campus. We were hoping to see the garden with the plants and the marble tiger and reminisce about the time at Towson.

Sometime in the last 50 years, the treasured Carrara marble tiger statue and the garden disappeared the same way as the Amber Room, the Ninth Legion eagle, Custer’s Remington Rolling Block rifle and Tom Brady’s jersey. When asked about the marble tiger statue, University employees seem to be at a loss to explain what happened to it. The marble tiger statue was no less treasured by the class of 1967 than the items listed above were treasured by people throughout history. We would like the Carrara marble tiger statue found so that it can be placed in an appropriate place of honor and accessibility on campus for all to enjoy.

A letter has been written to Towson University President Kim Schatzel requesting that she use the resources of her office to try to either locate or find out what happened to the marble tiger statue.  But more help is needed. If you know where the missing Carrara marble tiger statue is located or have information on what happened to it, please contact The Towerlight or the Alumni Relations Office.

On behalf of the Class of 1967, we thank you in advance for any and all assistance in finding our treasured Carrara marble tiger so it can be returned to its rightful owner – Towson University.

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