UCR’s Most Iconic Structure Turns 50 This Year
If there were ever a spot that meant UC Riverside to the 100,000-plus Highlanders, it is the bell tower. Rising up from the middle of the campus, it is a landmark, a meeting place, a stage-setter — and, most recently, a Twitter account holder.
The carillon and tower at UCR were a gift from former UC Regent Philip Boyd and his wife Dorothy. Then-Professor of Music William Reynolds was asked to choose a carillon for the campus; he recommended that UCR purchase a 48-bell carillon from the Paccard Bell Foundry in France. The dedication of the carillon and tower took place on October 2, 1966, and the rest are bongs in history.
The year that the bell tower was dedicated to UCR by UC Regent Philip Boyd and his wife, Dorothy.
The number of months that it took to build the bell tower.
The number of holes that cover the iconic bell tower.
UCR’s bell tower is only one of five true carillons in California!
The weight in tons of the carillon. This is equivalent to the weight of 45 male grizzly bears, 3,750 bagpipes and 1,875 bowling balls!
The height of the bell tower in feet. This is as tall as five fully grown navel orange trees stacked on top of each other. If you lay the bell tower flat on the ground horizontally, it will still be longer than the width of the average football field.
The number of bells that are housed in the bell chamber at the top of the tower. A carillon is an instrument that consists of at least 23 cup-shaped bells, tuned in chromatic series and played from a keyboard that allows variation of touch. A pianist would have little trouble learning to play the carillon, even though one plays the carillon keys with fists (and feet, because the larger bells have heavier clappers). Carillon music looks like piano music, and many aspects of playing are the same. The UCR carillon’s 48 bells makes it a concert carillon.
— Margo Halsted, former UCR carilloneur
The weight in pounds of the largest bell.
The weight in pounds of the smallest bell.
The depth of the bell tower’s underground foundation in feet. This is deeper than Big Bear Lake’s deepest water at 72 feet.
The amount of Twitter followers that @UCR_Belltower has. This account tweets a huge, “BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG,” hour-by-hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The number of years that the current University Carillonneur David Christensen has been performing bell tower concerts. UCR has had a total of three carillonneurs, including Margo Halsted and Lowell J. Smith. During the academic year, live performances by Christensen occur weekly on Mondays at noon. The UCR Bell Tower 50th Anniversary carillon concert series will be held on Oct. 17, 24, 31 and Nov. 7 at noon. More information.
The UCR Bell Tower illustration was created by Judy Field Baker ’58, an Idyllwild artist and UC Riverside alumna known for her pen-and-ink drawings of Inland Empire buildings.
Credit: Courtesy of UCR Jack & Marilyn Sweeney Art Gallery Permanent Collection