WGVA 106.3FM 1240AMMix 98.5101.7 The WallWFLR Finger Lakes Country Classic Hits 99.3The Lake 100.1/104.5 WAUB 96.3FM 1590AM

Group Forms to Preserve History of Wells College


A new group has formed to preserve the history of Wells College.

The Wells Legacy Society (WLS) has been formed to preserve the college’s legacy and keep its historic collections within the Village of Aurora and the surrounding area.

A statue of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, was damaged earlier this month when faculty tried to move the statue inside for its safety. The statue had looked over the entrance to the college’s Main Building since 1868, surviving a fire in 1888. Because of this, some members of the league are expressing extreme concern for the future of the college’s historic archives and artifacts.

“In an effort to cut corners, the administration ordered the statue moved without professional assistance and without any protective materials using a backhoe, a dolly, and chains. It is devastating to see this priceless symbol of our college handled so poorly,” said Rachel Snyder, president of the WLS. “It is also indicative of how the administration has handled the closing to date, and how they will handle the priceless artifacts at Wells College as they continue to close.”

Minerva statue damaged at Wells College. (Photo by Linda Schwab, provided by Wells Legacy Society)

“The disregard shown for this beautiful, iconic, solid marble antique statue is heartbreaking. I fear for the safety of the historic archives and artifacts that Wells holds in trust for the community and central New York,” said Karin A. Gregory, Esq., treasurer for the WLS.

An attorney for the WLS sent a letter last month to the college’s board of trustees with questions regarding the future of the school’s historic artifacts, archives, and assets now that the school is closing. According to the letter, the WLS hopes to work with the college “to protect Wells’ assets and preserve them locally.”

The letter specifically mentioned the Minerva Statue and stagecoaches as items the WLS believes should stay as close to Aurora as possible.

Another area of concern for the league is the board’s designation of Manhattanville University as the school’s preferred legacy partner. Manhattanville is a downstate college located approximately 250 miles away from Aurora, something the league takes issue with.

“We believe that the college’s historic assets should remain in Aurora and the surrounding area,” said Snyder. “And the lakeside campus is a place of beauty and deep historical significance, worthy of protection for future generations.”

Wells was founded in Aurora in 1868 by Henry Wells of Wells Fargo. On April 29, 2024, the board announced the school would close on June 30 after 156 years as an institution of higher learning.

Following the closure announcement, a separate initiative was launched to create a digital archive of alumni’s time at the college through an online photobook.

Have all the Finger Lakes news from Finger Lakes News Radio delivered to your email every morning for FREE!  Sign up by clicking here.

Get the top stories on your radio 24/7 on Finger Lakes News Radio 96.3 and 1590, WAUB and 106.3 and 1240, WGVA, and on Finger Lakes Country, 96.1/96.9/101.9/1570 WFLR.