NCSU to unveil first bells for tower

Posted April 1, 2012
Updated April 2, 2012

— Ninety-one years after construction started, the first bells for North Carolina State University's bell tower have arrived on campus.

The N.C. State bell tower was started in 1921 as a memorial to the school's 34 alumni killed in World War I, but it was never completed.

Thanks to an effort started by the class of 2010, the university will unveil the first three bells of a planned five-bell set at a ceremony Monday.

The class of 2010 donated $56,000 for the largest bell – a 2,000 bronze behemoth that rings the hour tone. The Helena H. Gardner bell and the W.F. Morris Sr. and Jr. bell were donated by their families.

The bells will be stored until the university acquires two more to complete the Westminster Chime set.

In 2008, Matthew Robbins, then a graduate student in architecture, discovered the original plans that would have outfitted the tower with 55 bells. He and class president Jay Dawkins started a student group called "Finish the [Bell]Tower" to raise money to finish those plans. The bells are all being bought with private donations.

The 115-foot tower is a campus landmark and the setting for such popular events as the Krispy Kreme run.

Financial difficulties plagued the construction of the bell tower during the Great Depression. The Works Progress Administration finished its outer shell in 1937.

Student efforts in the 1940s and '50s secured lights and interior items for the bell tower but never succeeded in getting bells. Instead, an electric chimes systems was installed and is still used today.


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  • cwood3 Apr 2, 2012

    State gets another asset for Raleigh. Not much sounds better than those real bells. Kinda like a pipe organ vs. a toy electric organ!! Duke Chapel's bells (and organs) are awesome!!!

  • Glass Half Full Apr 2, 2012

    Corey, learn how to drive in a roundabout and there won't be a problem. What a whiner. Congratulations to the 2010 Graduating Class for spearheading this effort. Would love to see a full set of bells in place one day.

  • Ezekiel c23 v19to20 Apr 2, 2012

    "Another amazing distraction for Raleigh's most dangerous roundabout."

    Do you honestly think they will be any more distracting than the recordings played at volume?

    "Maybe future bells can be made of the parts of cars totaled in front of the Bell Tower."

    Blame the poor deivers who have no clue how to use a roundabout.

  • corey3rd Apr 2, 2012

    Another amazing distraction for Raleigh's most dangerous roundabout. Maybe future bells can be made of the parts of cars totaled in front of the Bell Tower.

  • Ezekiel c23 v19to20 Apr 2, 2012

    Real bells are far superior to those silly recordings. It's about time the "bell tower" became a real one.

  • hollerhere Apr 2, 2012

    Hats off to the graduating class of 2010.

  • mhazouri Apr 2, 2012

    Can't wait to hear them.