Revisiting the Nittany Lion Shrine's Facelift
Of all the iconic imagery that immediately and uniquely calls out "Penn State" - from the black shoes and basic blues of football to the belltower of Old Main and Allen Street Gates - perhaps no one spot in Happy Valley speaks more directly to the spirit of Old State than "the symbol of our best": The Nittany Lion Shrine.
Originally presented to the University in 1942 as a gift of the class of 1940, the iconic statue of a crouching Pennsylvania mountain lion was sculpted from Indiana limestone by craftsman Heinz Warneke. Since that time, the Lion Shrine has become one of the most revered and visited places on campus. The University considers it the most-photographed site at Penn State, and the Shrine is popularly believed to trail only the Liberty Bell as the most frequently photographed landmark in the entire Commonwealth. The Homecoming tradition of "guarding the Lion Shrine" has evolved into an elaborate program complete with food, music, and a festival atmosphere. The Shrine has lost and regained an ear, been painted orange, (both more than once) and in September 2013, the University unveiled the first major renovation of the site since its completion in the 1940s, a gift from the Class of 2012.
The video above features Penn State's Derek Kalp, a stalwart caretaker of the distinctive beauty and character of campus, and Bill Hawk, the stone mason responsible for the Lion's new "habitat." Check it out, and if you want to see more, click this image to view "The Stone, The Artist, and The Lion" - a 13-minute documentary film commissioned by the Penn State Alumni Association that beautifully captures the process and inspiration behind the enhancement of the Nittany Lion Shrine.
There's never a bad time to look back on the pride and workmanship that go into making Happy Valley a place worth loving, and as we prepare to welcome back the student body for another school year, now seems an especially inviting time to pause and appreciate what we have.