nc state memorial belltower bells

New Bells for the Belltower

In Buzz, July/August 2020, Web Exclusive by Lauren KruchtenLeave a Comment

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WEB EXCLUSIVE The NC State Memorial Belltower is finally getting its bells!

That’s right, the iconic 115-foot-tall landmark you took photos in front of for graduation, lit up red for State wins and served as a beacon for celebrations and events on Hillsborough Street, was really just, well, a tower. Last year, the university began the Memorial Belltower Completion and Restoration Project in order to add real bells to NC State’s signature landmark, which were never installed due to lack of funds when the work on the belltower began in the 1900s.

In June, the first of the belltower’s bells were lifted into the tower using a crane, and on August 14, some of the smallest of the 55 bells arrived, just in time for NC State’s Wolfpack Welcome Week and the return of students to campus. The bells are only about six inches in diameter and are engraved with the school’s spirited wolf hand sign. Another set of bells are expected to arrive later this month.

For this, you can thank 1981 alumnus Bill Henry and his wife Frances, who supplied the university a generous donation for the bells, as well as for much-needed renovations and structural repairs to the tower and upgrades to the surrounding plaza, which will be named Henry Square. The addition of the bells will mark the completion for the belltower, which was erected in 1921 in honor of 34 alumni killed in World War I. 

The project also includes restoration of the Shrine Room and its marble and installation of an ascending path to make the bellower site more accessible. “It also restores, upgrades and improves this vital symbol of the university community’s past, present and future,” reads a blog post on NC State’s website concerning the restorations and upgrades. “The project team is striving to maintain historic integrity while mitigating issues such as water infiltration, so that the tower will stand strong for years to come.”

For updates on the Memorial Belltower Completion and Restoration Project, visit campaign.ncsu.edu/news/featured-series/a-legend-in-stone or follow NC State on Instagram or Facebook.

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