Filed Under Education

Centennial Carillon Tower

The Centennial Carillon Tower was built to commemorate Brigham Young University’s founding and has chimed for BYU students and faculty for 45 years.

The Centennial Carillon Tower was built and dedicated in 1975 to commemorate the one-hundred-year anniversary of the founding of Brigham Young University. President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Spencer W. Kimball dedicated the tower during the Centennial Founder’s Day convocation, a campus celebration of the anniversary. The tower sits just south of the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum at the north end of BYU’s campus.

Architect Fred L. Markham was hired to design the 97-foot-tall tower. It holds 52 bells that range in weight from 15 to 4,730 pounds, weighing a total of 26,695 pounds. The bells were cast in Aarle-Rixtel, Holland by the Petit and Fritsen Bell Foundry. An inscription on the largest bell reads: “May these bells proclaim forever our gratitude to those who founded and to those who sustain Brigham Young University – Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Friends. Oct. 1975.”

The bells are automated to toll a tune based on the LDS hymn “Come, Come Ye Saints,” followed by tolls for the hour. The bells also toll a chime on the half hour and are typically played for commencements, concerts, devotionals, and other special campus events. The bells have also been rung on special occasions, like the 1987 U.S. Bicentennial “Bells Across America” event, the 1989 national “Bells of Tribute to George Washington” event, and the 1993 “Bells for Hope” event, when university bell towers across the nation rang their bells to show support as President Bill Clinton took office.

The bells are played by clavier, a keyboard-type instrument played by pushing wooden batons and foot pedals. The whole instrument, the bells and the clavier, are called a carillon, and those who play it are referred to as carillonneurs. BYU carillonneurs play at the clavier located under the belfry, in a small room at the top of a spiral staircase of about one hundred steps. Professor Don Cook serves as the university carillonneur and has performed on tours in Holland and the east coast of the United States. Cook offers a carillon class for which interested students must audition.

The Centennial Carillon is the only carillon owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Images

Dedication of Centennial Carillon Tower, 10 October 1975
Dedication of Centennial Carillon Tower, 10 October 1975 Source: "Brigham Young University photographs of the Centennial Carillon Tower." BYU Harold B. Lee Library L. Tom Perry Special Collections Digital Collections, UA 827 box 2 folder 8. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/SCMisc/id/19732
Artist's Rendition of the Bell Tower
Artist's Rendition of the Bell Tower "Construction of a ninety-foot bell tower and carillon was started early in 1975 on the brow of a small slope northeast of the Abraham O. Smoot Administration Building as a major landmark to commemorate the University's Centennial. Dedication was scheduled for October 10, 1975." Source:

“[Artist's rendition of the bell tower and carillon (the Centennial Carillon Tower), 1975].” BYU Harold B. Lee Library Digital Collections, UAP 2 Folder 344. 1975. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/BYUPhotos/id/984

President Dallin H. Oaks Breaking Ground for the New Centennial Carillon Tower, February 1975
President Dallin H. Oaks Breaking Ground for the New Centennial Carillon Tower, February 1975 "On February 13, 1975, dressed in nineteenth century costume, President Dallin H. Oaks rode on a scraper and drove a team of giant Clydesdale horses to break ground for the new Centennial Carillon Tower. Provo Mayor Russell Grange, Dr. Lorin F. Wheelwright (assistant to the president and director of the BYU Centennial celebration), and others tried their hand at the vanishing method of earth removal. Present also were Fred Markham (architect) and a representative of Paulson Construction Company, contractors for the project." Source: “[President Dallin H. Oaks rides a scraper pulled by a team of giant Clydesdale to break ground of the new Centennial Carillon Tower, February 13, 1975].” BYU Harold B. Lee Library Digital Collections, UAP 2 Folder 344. 1975. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/BYUPhotos/id/983/rec/2
Centennial Carillon Tower Construction
Centennial Carillon Tower Construction “The early stages of the Centennial Carillon tower construction looked much like any other building, with equipment, scaffolding, and men in hard hats all over the place.” Source:

"Brigham Young University photographs of the Centennial Carillon Tower." BYU Harold B. Lee Library L. Tom Perry Special Collections Digital Collections, UA 827 box 2 folder 8. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/SCMisc/id/19734

Creator: Photo by Rick Nye.
Carillon Tower, 2009
Carillon Tower, 2009 Source:

"BYU Carillon." 20 Oct. 2006. Ivan Anderson. Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BYUclarillon.jpg

Centennial Celebration Banner
Centennial Celebration Banner Source: “Photographs of centennial celebration.” BYU Harold B. Lee Library L. Tom Perry Special Collections Digital Collections, UA 869 Series 1 box 4 folder 9. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/SCMisc/id/36878
Centennial Celebration Banners outside the Wilkinson Center and the Law Building
Centennial Celebration Banners outside the Wilkinson Center and the Law Building Source: “Photographs of centennial celebration.” BYU Harold B. Lee Library L. Tom Perry Special Collections Digital Collections, UA 869 Series 1 box 4 folder 9. https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/SCMisc/id/36879

Location

Metadata

Allie Patterson, Brigham Young University, “Centennial Carillon Tower,” Intermountain Histories, accessed April 14, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/416.