5 Little-Known Facts About the Rose Well House

The limstone Rose Well House is pictured on a sunny, fall evening behind a tree of red foliage.
The Rose Well House on the campus of IU Bloomington. (Photo by James Brosher, IU Studios)

IU Bloomington’s Rose Well House is best known as a campus smooch spot, but there’s much more to its story. Here are five facts you might not have known about the treasured Old Crescent landmark.

  1. One of the oldest structures on campus, the Rose Well House is a link to IU’s earliest days. Its stone portals were sourced from the Old College Building built in 1855 on IU’s original campus.
  2. The iconic structure made an appearance in the famed, Academy Award-winning flick Breaking Away. The romantic locale served as a (perhaps ironic) backdrop for the pivotal scene where Dennis Christopher’s “Dave” finally comes clean to his IU sweetheart that he’s not an Italian exchange student but a hometown “cutter.”
  3. The Rose Well House has a cousin: the IU Kokomo campus is also home to a well house. Originally located on the school’s West Sycamore campus at the Seiberling Mansion, the structure was relocated to its current location at the request of students.

    A group of six students pose in front of the Well House (a structure with a stone base, open frame of natural wood, and peaked roof of shingles) which sits along a thicket of trees.
    The Well House on the campus of IU Kokomo. (Photo courtesy IU Kokomo Archives)
  4. The Rose Well House’s distinctive octagonal design was inspired by the eight-sided Beta Theta Pi fraternity pin. Theodore F. Rose, 1875 alumnus, IU trustee, and a Beta himself, helped fund its construction in 1908 in tribute to his graduating class. The structure was consequently named in his honor.
  5. The Rose Well House is the namesake of the Well House Society. This donor recognition society honors those who support IU with flexible funding, which can be used to address emerging priorities such as unforeseen needs and unexpected opportunities.

This article was originally published in the fall 2020 issue of Imagine magazine.

Written By
A. Price
A resident of the Hoosier state since grade school, Alex forged a friendship with “tried and true” IU upon becoming a writer at the IU Foundation.