Weathervein: The Spalding Memorial School Bat

October 21, 2023 — If you drive through the town of Townsend in the northern area of central Massachusetts, you will see a middling, two-story brick edifice that is one of the town’s elementary schools, Spalding Memorial. If you look above the small, two-story brick edifice that is Spalding Memorial School, you will see a bat perched atop a cupola. Not because there’s a bat roost up there. And not because it’s the season to hang bats from roofs. That bat’s been up there for almost a hundred years.

It’s a weathervane—north, south, west, evil. Or maybe a weathervein (which you should be reading aloud with a Transylvania Twist).

I know what you’re thinking. A school with a bat weathervane must have a bat for a mascot. But that’s, um, too cool for this school. They’re patriots. Because that’s what everybody in Massachusetts is.

Truth actually is, nobody knows why there’s a large metal bat atop the school. According to the school website, the prevailing theory is that it was a mistake. They meant to order an owl, symbol of knowledge and annoyingly repetitive questions, but received a bat instead, so they just stuck it on the roof with a shrug.


Another less plausible theory is that it was an act of revenge. The school was started in the early 1930s—sometime around the debut of Universal Studio’s Dracula, in fact—by a $250,000 donation from a pair of brothers named Huntley and Roland Spaulding. The school was to be a memorial to their parents. However, they envisaged a much bigger school than what they got for their investment. Out of spite, they topped the building with that metal Chiroptera to signify that the people of Townsend are batshit, bat in the belfry, crazy like a bat for not helping them bring about their dream memorial.


Either way, when it comes to a one hundred year old bats atop schools, the more important fact is that it exists. And it isn’t some two-dimensional novelty from a specialty Halloween store. It’s a full-on bat statue, a few feet tall based on my (admittedly untrustworthy) estimate from the ground. Like they could take it down and make it the centerpiece of their courtyard. Although then they would have to make it their mascot.

And then they’d have to call themselves Ghoul School, and then I’d have to come coach the volleyball team. Scooby-dooby-doo.