Rock of (painted) ages
Above, students at the College at Florham have been painting Reuter’s Rock to advertise events for decades. Ever wonder how thick the paint is on the rock or how it got its name? Read on for the answers! Photos by Dan Landau.
By Dan Landau and Eleanor Friedl
Reuter’s Rock is a large painted boulder situated in front of Hennessy Hall. Students named the rock many years ago in honor of a professor who had a reputation as being “hard as a rock.” Today, the rock serves as a bulletin board for the College at Florham and is painted to advertise important events and parties on campus.
The rock itself is a glacial erratic and was discovered while the Twomblys were landscaping their estate. Workers were excavating the hill “to open a prospect as one approached the mansion, and there was the rock!” says Paul Boyer, emeritus professor of geology at the College at Florham. “It was too big to move easily, so the Twomblys left it there.”
The rock was named after Walter Reuter, a German language professor at the College at Florham during the 1960s and ‘70s. Initially, there was a sign with the name on a post sticking out of the top of the rock; however it was quickly removed.
No one knows for sure where the current tradition of painting the rock stems from. Boyer offers the explanation “that students probably wrote graffiti on the rock, and then the vandalism was ‘domesticated’ by giving it a worthy purpose.” However the tradition began, it is now firmly ensconced and as Peter Woolley, campus provost puts it, “at FDU, we rock.”
After years and years of painting, the coating of paint has become quite thick on the rock. Speculation abounds as to how thick the paint actually is on the rock. During May 2012, a section of the paint was chipped off, exposing the rock underneath—probably for the first time in decades.