History and Background
The Babson Globe is the brainchild of Roger Babson, the College’s brilliant and eccentric founder. Together with a 65-foot plaster relief map of the lower 48 states, it was the centerpiece of The Map and Globe Museum in Coleman Hall. The Globe was meant to “impress upon students and other viewers an appreciation of the world as a whole … stimulating an interest in world geography, history, economics, transportation, and trade.” Babson and his grandson, Roger Webber, came up with the idea for the Globe in 1947, provided $200,000 in personal funding, and commissioned the Globe’s construction in the early 1950s.
When it was dedicated in 1955, the Globe measured 28 feet in diameter and weighed 25 tons. It was engineered to rotate on its own axis (though notably, it did not rotate on an oak tree trunk as Roger Babson originally envisioned). The Globe was the largest of its kind at the time, and drew tens of thousands of visitors to campus each year. Unfortunately, as the Globe aged and fell into disrepair, the crowds stopped coming and by the late 1970s the Globe was in poor condition.
Saving the Globe
Shortly after graduation, alumni Tim Domini ’78, MBA’82 became the Map and Globe Museum’s curator. He served as a key contributor to the relief map restoration efforts during the 1980s, educating the community on the need for restoration. Student volunteers, under the guidance of cartographer Jaime Quintero, scrubbed, recast, repositioned, and repainted the relief map’s 1,216 plaster tiles in 1980–1981.
Meanwhile, some of the 574 enamel tiles that formed the Globe’s exterior began falling off. The administration decided to remove the remaining tiles, and sent everything to storage. Left exposed to the elements, the machinery and electrical system that had once allowed the Globe to spin rusted and broke down. By 1988, the administration decided to demolish the Globe entirely.
In response, students and faculty led by C. Christopher Lingamfelter ’91 and Professor Larry Meile formed the Save the Globe committee. Although their fundraising efforts progressed slowly, they were able to postpone the Globe’s demolition. Inspired by their cause, the 1989 Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs® inductee Michael Smurfit donated $75,000, making the restoration feasible.
Incoming president William Glavin tackled the Globe restoration as one of his administration’s first projects, announcing a Future of the Globe Committee tasked with finishing the Globe’s restoration. The committee secured a $55,000 gift from William Yeager ’49 and his family to complete the restoration. When the Globe was rededicated in 1993, it featured 506 vinyl panels and the most advanced satellite imagery available at the time.