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A Modern (and Current) Spin on the Topping Out Ceremony for the New Fuller Middle School

A Modern (and Current) Spin on the Topping Out Ceremony for the New Fuller Middle School

Progress is continuing with the Fuller Middle School Building Project and we’ve recently met a milestone that due to COVID-19, went a bit under the radar. Before we share the details, please read through the history of this milestone and associated tradition.

At a School Building Committee meeting earlier this year, Joel Seeley, Owner’s Project Manager from SMMA, offered the following information and history on the topping out ceremony. The contractor’s tradition began years ago by Scandinavians, who believed their gods lived in trees. 

Early Scandinavians placed the top-most branches of trees, cut for lumber in the construction, atop their completed buildings to prevent incurring the wrath of both their gods and souls of man. Man’s soul was believed to originate in trees and return to them. 

To live amiably among the tree gods, these early folk accompanied the topping out with festivity and ceremony, culminating it with the pouring of wine at the foot of the tree. With this, they thought the building and its occupants would gain good luck since no tree god would wreak vengeance on so devout a believer. 

The ceremony was seen by early inhabitants of England as a way to solve their dilemma since they also were mortally terrified to cut down even one tree. Finally, tree gods were looked upon as more benevolent, and there was a ceremonial shift to declarations of sturdy and lasting craftsmanship and symbols of good luck for the owner. 

In the modern topping out ceremony, we honor the tradespeople who build the facility for their quality construction. We honor the ancient traditions with the symbolic tree on the beam, and we honor our country with the American flag. We also invite all participants to put their name on the final beam and become a permanent part of the new building. 

Given the current practice of social distancing, members of the Framingham School Building Committee, City Council, School Committee, and former elected officials from Town and City government who worked for years to make this project a reality were invited to sign the beam. The installation of the final beam was recorded and the video will be used at a future ceremony with the school community and the public involved.

While we wait for that occasion and time, please enjoy a few photos below captured as signatures were added to the Beam. Thank you to School Building Committee Members and Consigli Construction for sharing these photos with us!

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