A Tale of Two Frogs: A History of the Library Pond

Published on: November 29, 2012

Erik Elbieh

Every Rocker on campus during the past couple of decades is sure to have seen the pond in the atrium of the Alumni Library and might know about Ace the frog. However, the story of how there came to be a pond in the atrium is slightly less known.

Though it may look as though the pond was put into the library when it was first built, such was not the case. In the spring of 1989, thanks to Pete Baumann, the pond was built. Soon after the plastic piping, pump and water were put into place, Pete decided to add some life to the pond by adding a handful of minnows.

The new additions were welcomed by the students, but the unexpected arrival of a minnow-eating frog was slightly alarming. After it became apparent the frog would be sticking around for a while, Pete named the frog Ace.

It wasn’t much trouble finding something else edible for Ace. He attempted to eat almost anything that crossed his path, including fingers. Though no students are known to have been permanently harmed by Ace, there are plenty of cases of surprised students who had a portion of their finger engulfed by the frog’s mouth.

In the mid-nineties, a group of students tried to find Ace a friend to keep him company in the pond. After a few attempts to introduce a frog friend ended as unexpected extra meals for Ace, one frog managed to survive, and with some time and food, was soon about the same size as Ace. The new frog was named Deuce. While the two frogs initially attempted to claim the pond as their own territory, peace and harmony reigned after a few weeks of initial discontent.

Even with the introduction of an extra frog, the atrium pond was not quite finished. Or, perhaps it was, as the school administration made plans to replace the pond with a fireplace in 1998. In typical fashion, the Rockers of the time did not take the matter sitting down, and immediately began gathering words of support for the frog pond. Just in time, the complaints were presented to the Board of Overseers, who changed their plans, saving the pond.

Baumann, along with Eileen Handelman, a former physics professor and experienced gardener, managed to rebuild the pond entirely in the Spring of 1999, in time for the library’s rededication. Ace and Deuce lived happily in the pond for further years, and in 2003, Ace was even entered into contention for the Guinness World Record of oldest frog. Although newer generations of Ace and Deuce now inhabit the pond in the library atrium, the original location and concept behind the pond remains unchanged.

For those wishing to get even more information about the story of Ace and Deuce, including much of the information that was used in this article, check out the book entitled Ace the Frog, by Kathleen Schmidt, which is available in the Alumni Library at QL669.S66. The original book of notes presented to the Board of Overseers is also available in the school archives.