In the inset photo from 1930, costumed dance students from the Department of Physical Education salute the then-new Trojan Shrine, which was officially unveiled in June of that year.
Just two years earlier, building a warrior statue was an idea that had popular support, but not much traction. James McCoy ’06, president of USC’s alumni association, decided to take charge.
Determined to create a “permanent manifestation of the Trojan Spirit,” McCoy organized a committee and launched a search for a sculptor. He found Roger Noble Burnham, a noted Los Angeles artist with studios on the corner of Vermont Avenue and Third Street, who shared his vision. Burnham quickly began work, and Trojan football players served as models for the life-size bronze statue.
To cover the $10,000 project, the university agreed to add $1 to each alumni season football ticket for two years.
The Trojan Shrine was presented during the university’s weeklong 50th anniversary celebration and has come to fulfill the role McCoy envisioned eight decades ago:
“The symbol ‘Trojan’ should be perpetuated in the form of a Trojan Warrior, set up on the campus and so located that it would constitute a rallying point for the student body.”