For more than 60 years, the 12-inch by 15-inch Gold Star portraits of 68 Culver alumni remained hidden in a box after being taken down when the Legion Memorial Building was turned into the library. The boxes moved from various locations before ending up in the basement of Eppley Auditorium.
But in October, 2011, Culver History Curator Jeff Kenney and Art Collection Curator Bob Nowalk found the box under a table. Now, after seven years of work, the portraits have been restored and framed in time for the World War I centennial.
“Hear Now the Roll Call, Gold Star Men of Culver, World War I” is now open to the public at the Crisp Visual Arts Center. The exhibition opened on Saturday, Nov. 10, in time for the centennial weekend at Culver. Open to the public, the Crisp Center hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays while school is in session and by request on weekends. The exhibition will remain through August.
Photographs of the soldiers supplied by their families were originally used in the Legion’s Gold Star room. Though they were recreated in a uniform size, the differences provided an uneven effect. In 1925, Gignilliat invited a young artist from Indianapolis, Hugh Poe, to visit campus and paint pastel portraits of 63 fallen soldiers. That number eventually grew to 68 as more men were identified.
It is Poe’s portraits that are now on display, along with other World War I artifacts that have been given to Culver Academies over the years.