North campus rock probed, thickness of paint determined

During an event at the Spirit Rock in April 2015, students gathered in response to a "Black Lives Matter" message on the rock being defaced. The word "Black" was painted over. The above message signaled inclusion on the UConn campus. (File Photo/The Daily Campus).

UConn officials determined last week that there are 1.25 inches of paint covering the North campus “Spirit Rock.”

Crews took a drill to the rock, which went into the paint 1.25 inches before striking the stone, according to Michael Jednak, the Associate Vice President of Facilities Operations at the University of Connecticut.

“We used a small drill bit to drill into the layers of paint,” Jednak said. “The crew stopped drilling once they felt the edge of the drill hit rock.”

Jednak said the thickness of the paint layers is equivalent to approximately 450 coats of paint, which he said makes sense due to the timeframe.

“It doesn’t really get painted during the summer because students aren’t around,” Jednak said. “And it’s 10 years old, so if it was painted every week, it would be 520 coats. And if you just, kind of, take out snow days and wintertime and that stuff, 450 seems to be about the rate of it getting painted once every week.”

As for the future of the rock, Jednak said his crews did minimal damage to the rock when probing it.

“It’s a small [drill] bit, so it didn’t affect the future painting of the rock,” Jednak said. “It was kind of a fun thing to do. The guys were excited when they found out how much paint there was.”

The current North campus rock was placed in its present spot in 2008 after being completely cleaned of all paint, according to UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.

UConn encourages the painting of certain rocks around campus, including this one, labeling them as “Spirit Rocks,” according to the university’s guidelines for rock painting.

“The tradition of rock painting… has a positive impact on campus,” the website reads. “It provides an outlet to show school spirit and pride in individual organizations.”

The tradition of rock painting at UConn began in the 1940s, with a much larger rock that previously sat where the George Safford Torrey Life Science Building currently stands, according to a write-up in the 1965 UConn yearbook.

The original rock was broken up in 1958 when construction began on TLS, and a smaller chunk of the rock was placed at the corner of North Eagleville and North Hillside where it was regularly painted up until the late 1990s, according to a 2008 Hartford Courant article.

It was then moved to Depot campus where it was “unceremoniously dumped and was covered with weeds,” the Courant wrote.

"When we found it on the Depot campus, I bet you the paint on it was a good foot deep,” former UConn President Michael Hogan told the Courant. “We had to have a haz-mat team clean it up before we could reinstall it.”

The over 11,300-pound rock was then placed at its current location at the corner of North Hillside Road and Alumni Drive where it now sits waiting to be painted.


Andrew Miano is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at andrew.miano@uconn.edu.