Grove City College’s iconic Rainbow Bridge is closed to facilitate a major campus infrastructure improvement project.
Work will be concentrated on the staircase just east of the bridge. Pavers on the landings and risers of the steps will be replaced and heated snow melting elements will be installed under the landings to improve safety during the ice and snow season.
Rainbow Bridge isn’t part of the repair project, but it will be closed because it only leads to the staircase and a trail along the hillside that will be used to access the construction site.
The 120-foot staircase leads from the northeast corner of the College’s central Quad to Rainbow Bridge, which spans Wolf Creek and links upper and lower campus. Climbing the stairs, sometimes multiple times a day, is a rite of passage for students. Some Grovers make the trip down carried by their friends as part of the “creeking” ritual in which a newly engaged young man is dunked in the creek.
An aging stone wall at the top of the staircase will be rebuilt as part of the overall project.
Rainbow Bridge and the staircase were built in 1931 to provide an on-campus route between lower campus, which at that time encompassed most of Grove City College’s major academic, administrative, and athletic facilities, and upper campus, where the then-new Harbison Chapel and Rockwell Hall of Science had just been completed.
Over the next 50 years, the College’s center of gravity shifted to upper campus, with more than 20 buildings, including residence halls, athletic and fine arts venues, academic facilities, and student support structures, rising to complete a campus plan drawn up by the famed Olmstead Brothers firm. The bridge was completely rebuilt in 2002 and the staircase has been repaired multiple times over the last 90 years.
The staircase project is part of the College Operations Office’s extensive summer “to do” list, which also includes remodeling Cunningham House, replacing most of the roof of the Pew Fine Arts Center, expanding the Staley Hall of Arts and Letters loading dock, installing new flooring in the lobby of Memorial Hall, replacing the roof on the press box at Don Lyle Field, repairing sidewalks around campus, rerouting storm sewers in Memorial parking lot, installing new furniture in Ketler Hall -- courtesy of a generous donor – and installing a massive Grove sign gifted by the Class of 2022.
All told, the College is investing about $2.9 million in repairs and improvements across campus this summer. Consistent maintenance and upkeep of the physical plant is routine at Grove City College, which values wise stewardship of its resources and mission.