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Thank You, Steven Frownington McWhiskers

During renovations to the Rubenstein Library, a new carving was discovered in a remote corner of the stacks. The image of a fairly grumpy looking cat is a tribute to a campus friend named Steven Frownington McWhiskers—affectionately known as Steve.


Steve was a local farm cat who took a great interest in the construction on West Campus between 1927 and 1932. Present for everything from the placement of the cornerstone in the Union to the erection of the Chapel spire, Steve was a steadfast friend and critic. His smoldering glare reminded the stonecarvers that even a single errant stone would mar the beauty of the campus. With a low growl and a hiss, Steve reminded all that he watched over them—and did not approve of anything short of perfection.

Grumpy Cat at the West Campus cornerstone-laying ceremony, 1928

Grumpy Cat helps with Duke Chapel construction, 1932

We fondly remember Steve today for his efforts to ensure that Duke University would be a place of great beauty for people and cats alike.

Post contributed by Valerie Gillispie, Duke University Archivist.