Campus home to three towers

Both sights and sounds greet guests

By Josh Chapin

Visitors to Miami’s grand campus are treated not only to spectacular visuals, but sounds as well.

Miami’s campus now boasts three bell towers. The earliest one is the Beta Bell Tower, built in 1940. The Beta bells were presented as a gift from the Beta Theta Pi national fraternity upon its centennial anniversary. The fraternity was founded at Miami in 1839.

Beta Bells: Miami's first bell tower stands tall
The cornerstone for the Beta bells was laid on November 10, 1940, and the official dedication for the tower was on May 17, 1941.

The Beta bells boast four bells, all individually labeled. The first bell, inscribed Beta, weighs 3,000 pounds and rings in the key of E flat. The second bell, Theta, weighs 1,200 pounds and is in the key of A flat. The third bell, Pi, is in the key of B flat, and weighs 800 pounds. The fourth and final bell is labeled with the date “1839-1939,” is in the key of C and weighs 600 pounds.

The bells arrived on campus July 1939, before the completion of the Beta Tower, and were stored in the east tower of Harrison Hall. The bells were first sounded on August 8, 1939, for the presentation to the university at the Beta Theta Pi Centenary Convocation.

The tower stands at 128 feet. Work on the tower progressed slowly in the winter of ’39 due to the fact that the mild weather necessary for brick work wasn’t frequent enough. The tower was eventually completed on April 1, 1940, while students were away for spring break.

Architect Charles F. Cellarius of Cincinnati designed the tower. At the time of its design, bell towers were not common to college campuses, aside from a smattering few around the country, including one at the University of California and the College of St. Theresa in Winona, Minnesota.

Cellarius said there was no precedent for the design of the tower, and that it was designed in the Colonial style to conform to the architecture of recent buildings of that time. The Beta Bell Tower was the first one designed by Cellarius.

The bells were designed to ring the Westminster series of four notes for each quarter hour, with 16 notes at the full hour followed by the striking of the hour itself on the largest bell. The bells are rung by an electrical mechanism controlled by a master clock. The bells were made by the Meneely Bell Company of Troy, New York.

The original plan for the tower was to erect it in time for the Beta centennial celebration. Unfortunately, sufficient funds were not available and the project was postponed.

The cost of the tower was approximately $30,000, of which $12,000 went toward the purchase of the bells. The guest-of-honor at the dedication of the Beta tower was Maud Marshall Hassall, the granddaughter of Samuel Taylor Marshall, one of the founders of the fraternity.

Along with the Beta bells, the Molyneaux-Western Bell Tower also belongs to the campus. The Western tower is situated on Peabody Green, opposite Peabody Hall.

The Western tower was built in 1978 with a $25,000 grant from the Molyneaux Corporation and matching gifts from Western alumnus. The Western campus became part of Miami in 1974.

The tower was dedicated on June 18, 1978, and culminated a yearlong project for the Western College Alumnae Association. The dedication was presided over by Dr. Walter E. Havighurst, a former Miami University Professor of English emeritus. Also on hand was then Miami President Dr. Phillip R. Shriver.

The tower stands at 53 feet tall and houses the 11 bell Heath Chime. The Heath Chime formerly hung in Alumnae Hall before its destruction
Pulley Tower: Most recently built of towers
in 1977. The tower also features three separate bells from Holland.

The Heath Chime was a gift to Western College in 1924 from Elizabeth Winifred McCullough, who graduated in 1884. The chime was accepted by then Western president Dr William Waddell Boyd.

The three bells added were cast in Holland by the I.T. Verdin Company of Cincinnati, who also designed the tower. The Heath Chime is played both manually and electronically from a console in the Kumler Memorial Chapel. The 11 Heath bells range in weight from 2,000 pounds to 130 pounds.

The tower is named after Dr. John Molyneaux, an Oxford dentist and banker who attended Miami from 1893-95, and graduated from the Ohio Dental College in 1898. Dr. Molyneaux was a member of the Western College’s Board of Trustees from 1914 until his death in 1953. He briefly served as Western’s acting president in 1941.

The third and final bell tower was recently dedicated on November 11. The Pulley Bell Tower is located on the southwest corner of Cook Field and was funded by William Pulley in tribute to his father Verlin, a Miami alumni from 1925.

Pulley said the tower was in honor of his father’s devotion to his family, university and community.

Verlin Pulley died on April 13, 1986, and was the founder of Capitol-Varsity Company, which went on to become one of the largest dry cleaning companies in the United States. Pulley founded the company while he was still a student. Pulley was also mayor of Oxford from 1936-40, and was named “Oxford Citizen of the Year” in 1955.

The tower stands at 95 feet and was constructed by Muller Architects of Cincinnati. The tower is home to 50 bells made by the Verdin Company in Holland, four illuminated clocks and room for an organ.

The bells are programmed to chime 10 minutes prior to the Beta bells. They can also be played in song form from a console inside the tower.

Inscriptions of Western bells

Western Tower: Dedicated in '78
Each of the fourteen bells of the Molyneaux-Western Bell Tower has a different inscription.

First Bell: "This chime of eleven bells is given to The Western College for Women by Elizabeth McCullough Heath, a member of the Class of 1884, and is dedicated to the glory of God through the development of Christian women."

Second Bell: "Let knowledge grow from more to more, but more of reverence is us dwell; that mind and soul, according to well, may make one music as before."

Third Bell: "Ring out the false, ring in the true."

Fourth Bell: "Ring out the feud of rich and poor, ring in redress to all mankind."

Fifth Bell: "Ring in the nobler modes of life, with sweeter manners, purer laws."

Sixth Bell: "Ring out the old, ring in the new."

Seventh Bell: "Ring in the love of truth and right, ring in the common love of God."

Eighth Bell: "Ring out the thousand wars of old, ring in the thousand years of peace."

Ninth Bell: "Ring in the valiant man and free, the larger heart, the kindlier hand."

Tenth Bell: "Ring out the darkness of the land, ring in the Christ that is to be."

Eleventh Bell: "One God, one law, one element, and one far-off divine event, to which the whole Creation moves."

Twelfth Bell: "Ring out the winds of remembering."

Thirteenth Bell: "Bells of the past, whose long forgotten music still finds the wide expanse."

Fourteenth Bell: "Bells that sing heaven's praise with such an earthly tongue."

return to special areas