06:53 AM

The Bellevue College Rock

If you have been on the Bellevue University campus, you may have wondered about the origin of a granite boulder located under a tree on the central campus plaza.

The rock, which weighs several hundred pounds, and bears the date, “1906,” carved four-inch high numerals, originally was located on the site of the original “Bellevue College,” a Presbyterian Church-affiliated private institution incorporated in 1880, which granted bachelor’s degrees until 1919 and closed in 1934, when the rock, along with student records, were moved to the campus of Hastings College, another Presbyterian affiliated institution.

The first Bellevue College’s nine-building hill-top campus overlooked the Missouri River about a mile east of modern-day Bellevue University in a Bellevue neighborhood once known as Old Elk Hill.

[caption id="attachment_684" width="355" caption="The first Bellevue College, circa 1912"][/caption]

The story of the “Bellevue College Rock,” likely a gift from former college’s graduating class of 1906, and its journey between the old and new campuses, is part of a book compiled and authored by Dr. Joyce Wilson, retired art professor, for whom the University’s “Dr. Joyce Norene Wilson Art Gallery” is named. Her manuscript, titled A History of Bellevue University: The First 40 Years (1966-2006), includes this account.

[caption id="attachment_685" width="211" caption="Dr. Joyce Wilson and the Bellevue College rock"][/caption]

“The granite boulder from the campus of the Old Bellevue College had rested in the corner of the Hastings College student center, the Bellevue House.  It came to the attention of Bellevue students that a Bellevue College boulder was being held hostage by Hastings. 

“On a September afternoon in 1976, nine Bellevue College students, aided and abetted by a faculty member, traveled to Hastings and, dressed as maintenance workers, rolled the stone out on a two-wheeler. 

“Expecting to be tracked down by outraged Hastings students, they camouflaged the boulder in a rock pile on the faculty member’s farm.  Nothing happened and eventually the rock was moved to the Bellevue campus (McMorris, 1994).”

Wilson said courteous Hastings College students, oblivious to the intent of the rock movers, reportedly held the student center doors open to enable the rock to be removed.