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Babson’s World Globe will keep turning

(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)

The 25-ton spinning globe that has graced Babson College for decades has undergone a face-lift.

Using a portion of a $36.3 million donation from alumni Robert and Jan Weissman, the campus fixture, which moved to the college’s Centennial Park last year, will be rededicated in May.

In the late 1950s, travelers from all over would trek to Coleman Hall and view the spectacle — meant to symbolize an internationally supportive and welcoming community. But the Babson World Globe suffered substantial deterioration over the years, making the return to its former glory an uphill battle for alumni and college officials.

Here’s a walkthrough of the history of the Babson World Globe.

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Global innovation

In 1947, the college’s founder Roger Babson came up with the idea to build the globe as a part of the Map and Globe Museum to “impress upon students and other viewers an appreciation of the world as a whole . . . stimulating an interest in world geography, history, economics, transportation, and trade,” according to the college’s website.

Money makes the world go round

Roger Babson used $200,000 of his own money to kick off the project. In 1953, the college dedicated the project to the United Nations and two years later the 28-foot diameter globe was done.

The sky is falling!

According to the college, tens of thousands of visitors came to see the globe annually. But by the late 1970s it had fallen into disrepair. By the ’80s conditions worsened: the 574 enamel tiles were removed after they began falling off; the machinery that kept the globe rotating broke; and by 1988 college administrators decided to demolish the globe.

Waiting on the world to change

The same year, Professor Larry Meile and alumnus C. Christopher Lingamfelter formed the Save the Globe committee. Michael Smurfit gave $75,000 to restore the Globe in 1989.

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Then-President William Glavin decided to make fixing the globe one of his first priorities. Alumnus William Yeager donated $55,000 which revitalized the project. By 1993, the newly restored globe had 506 vinyl panels fit with satellite imagery.

A new start

In March 2018, the globe was moved to Centennial Park near the Wellesley campus for a fresh renovation. It’s a complicated job: artists have had to trace outlines of each country. The overhaul will be finished and revealed in May.


Annika Hom can be reached at annika.hom@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.