Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia President Michael F. Adams announced today at the Navy Supply Corps School that the university plans to return a historic sundial to the Prince Avenue campus when it takes possession of the property next year. The announcement came during a joint news conference with the mayor and commanding officer of the Navy School to inform the community of fall events to celebrate the presence of the navy in the local community for the last 57 years.
“This is an exciting find for us,” said Adams. “After we complete some refurbishing of this artifact, we plan to re-install the sundial at what we believe to be its original location. I have said all along that we want to preserve and celebrate the history of the former Normal School and current Navy School property as we develop uses for the UGA Health Sciences Campus. I think this will serve as a fitting symbol, tying the timelines of the past through the present and to the future of this place.”
The origin of the sundial, which had been under a stairwell at the Grounds Department for the last decade, was recently investigated by the Physical Plant’s historic preservation planner, Janine Duncan. After consultation with the archivists of the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duncan discovered that the sundial was donated by a former dean of the State Normal School in honor of the Class of 1920 and was placed in front of Pound Hall, a building which still stands on the grounds today. The sundial first appears in photographs in the mid-1920s and by the 1930s, commonly appears as a fixture in photographs of class clubs.
The campus served as the State Normal School (teacher’s college) and then as the Coordinate Campus (housing female students) for the University of Georgia until 1953, when it was sold to the U.S. Navy as the new home of the Navy Supply Corps School. In 2011, when the navy vacates the base, the university will reclaim the 58 acres for its health sciences campus.
The brass sundial, which is placed atop a three-foot high marble urn, features delicately hand-tooled Roman numerals and the inscription, “Tyme Tryeth Trothe – 1673.” Loosely translated from Old English, it means “Time tests faith” or “Time tests truth.”
Duncan contacted Christie’s of London to analyze the piece. Based on a photograph she sent via email, the appraisers believe it is a late Victorian reproduction, probably made in the 1870s or 1880s.
How the sundial ended up at the University of Georgia campus in the first place remains a mystery, but it is widely speculated that it was brought to the campus when the navy assumed control of the grounds on Prince Avenue. It stood in a landscaped area south of the Administration Building (formerly the Georgia Museum of Art on North Campus) until about a decade ago, when it was displaced by the renovation of the building. Physical Plant crews brought it to the Grounds Department on Cedar Street for safekeeping, thinking they would find the right spot for it in time.
“I’m an amateur genealogist, and there is a saying that a long-lost relative will remain lost until he or she wants to be found,” said Duncan. “The same could be true of the sundial. It wanted to be found.”