Local News

N.C. State bell tower may get real bells

Posted April 9, 2009 12:17 a.m. EDT
Updated April 9, 2009 5:56 a.m. EDT

— North Carolina State University students are launching an effort to finish the bell tower. The tower was supposed to hold 54 bells, but was never finished because of the Great Depression.

“The memorial is incomplete as it stands,” said Matthew Robbins, an N.C. State graduate student in architecture.

The tower was built as a memorial to the university's 33 World War I dead. The iconic structure was partially completed by 1922. As time passed, alumni tried to raise money to complete the tower, but it was never enough.

After the Great Depression, the government provided the funds to finish the structure, but the bells were never installed. The sound of bells is simulated and piped through a set of speakers at the top of the tower.

“To the alumni, it's sacred ground – it's a memorial. To the students, it's a landmark, it's a gravitation point,” Robbins said.

For decades, the 115-foot landmark has set the stage for campus events such as the annual Krispy Kreme Run.

The tradition of the tower was why students Krystal Matthews and Josh Kinlaw decided to take their engagement photos there.

“It shows how special it is that they light it up in red whenever we win a game. It just goes to show what it means to the university,” Kinlaw said.

Robbins and some other students are trying to raise enough money to install the 54 bells that were part of the original design. Some students who are part of the Class of 2010 want the bell's completion to be their gift to the school.

“I can't think of a more worthy cause for the seniors to donate to this year,” student Jay Dawkins said.

The students don't plan to use any tax money for the bells. It could be a couple of years before real bells replace the recorded chimes and speakers.

Robbins also generated video of the tower to look how it would if it had been completed to its original design intent.

If you would like to donate to the bell, contact the www.ncsubells.com or send an e-mail to ncstatebells@gmail.com.