Memorial Bell Tower Dismantled
Bells to ring again in 2006.
March 07, 2005
66 years, the bells of the Memorial Bell Tower marked the beginning
of the day for generations of Andover students. “I remember
running from Rockwell Hall to Commons. If you didn’t get
there before the bells stopped tolling, you were locked out of
breakfast and earned a demerit,” says William H. Morris
time, rust and design flaws took their toll on Andover’s
most familiar landmark, built to memorialize 85 alumni who died
in World War I. Rust on the internal steel structure caused cracks
in the exterior brick, and the bells themselves needed repairs.
In 1989, the bells fell silent.
following a $5.15 million restoration effort, the bells will finally
ring again in 2006. The technically challenging project involves
dismantling the tower brick by brick, constructing a new tower
that appears identical on the outside, cleaning and tuning the
original English bells and adding new bells so the carillon can
once again signal events in the academy’s life.
tower is a tribute to the school, the community and all who have
served in the American military,” says Morris, head agent
of the class that was first to create a fund for the tower’s
restoration. Younger alumni, too, are enthusiastically supporting
the project. Even though they had never actually heard the bells,
the Class of 2003 dedicated its senior gift to the tower.
bell tower was designed by noted architect Guy Lowell, based on
the steeple of Boston’s Old South Meeting House. Built with
a gift from Samuel Lester Fuller, Class of 1894, the tower stands
on the historic Training Field, where military companies drilled
during the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War,
the Spanish-American War and World War I.
its dedication in 1923, Headmaster Alfred Stearns said, “The Memorial
Tower that now adorns the Andover campus is bound to crystallize
the sentiment and grip the hearts of all Andover men.”
the years, the bells were a familiar sound on campus, summoning
students to classes, providing Sunday afternoon concerts for town
residents and passing motorists and ringing on other occasions
as well. “By 1989, the carillon needed repair, and the single
open stairway providing access for the carilloneur was hazardous,”
says Michael Williams, director of physical plant. From an engineering
viewpoint, the bell tower had been poorly designed, and cracks
had developed throughout the brick and steel structure.
building had fallen victim to two forms of expansion—rust-jacking
and ice-jacking. When the inner steel structure began to rust,
it expanded, causing small cracks in the surrounding brick. As
water got into those cracks, it froze and expanded. “The
ice and rust were forcing the building apart, a process that accelerated
over time,” says Williams. “We realized we had a significant
restoration problem. Our short-term answer was to seal up the
building; the long-term solution is to fix the core problems.”
January 2005, more than $4.7 million had been raised for the project.
Lead gifts have been made by Trustee Emeritus David M. Underwood
’54 and the Weaver family—David ’61, daughter
Christina Weaver Vest ’89 and son Andres ’92. The
Weavers requested their gift be used to dedicate the bells in
memory of Joshua Miner, former PA teacher, admission director
and founder of Outward Bound USA.
generous gift has been received from former Los Angeles Times
owner and publisher Otis Chandler ’46. Part of a three-generation
West Coast alumni family that includes himself, son Harry ’71
and granddaughter Margot ’00, Chandler made a leadership
pledge in honor of his family.
Frederick Jordan Jr. ’43 also made a generous pledge, followed
by one from Helen Donegan of Laguna Hills, Calif., who has no
connection to PA other than being a friend of Jordan and Donald
S. Burns ’43.
Kemper ’45 and John Ryan ’45 have issued a challenge
grant to their classmates, which they hope will result in a 60th
reunion gift of $700,000 from the Class of 1945. Morris is not
surprised by the support this project has received from his classmates,
many of whom are war veterans and now in their late 70s. “We
want to hear the bells ring again before we hear whatever kind
of bells there are upstairs or downstairs,” he jests.
existing tower has 37 bells—19 English bells from the original
installation and 18 Dutch bells purchased in the 1960s to replace
the upper treble bells. The largest bell, which plays low E, weighs
2,347 pounds. “Unfortunately, when the Dutch bells were
added, the technology for matching tonality was not as sophisticated
as it is now,” says Williams. “The bells sound slightly
Dutch bells will be replaced by new bells being cast by Royal
Eijbouts in The Netherlands. So that the upper range of carillon
music can be played as written, the number of bells will be expanded
to allow four full octaves of music. The inside of the tower is
being redesigned to hold 49 bells and to allow them to be removed
and serviced when needed. Patrick Mocaska of Ann Arbor, Mich.,
who is both a carilloneur and an architect, is serving as a special
consultant for the bells.
touch-sensitive electronic system, featuring a keyboard on the
ground floor with wires connected to the bell clappers, will be
installed to sound the bells, which remain stationary when played.
One advantage of this electronic system is that students can practice
and record their music on a synthesized version without the whole
community hearing their practice sessions. Only when one hits
“play” will the bells ring out. Music from other carillons
can be downloaded from the Internet and played on the new PA carillon.
There also will be a remote control so the bells can sound while
the “ringer” is at another location.
Board of Trustees approved the project for construction last October.
John Galanis, who has overseen construction of the Gelb Science
Center, Harrison Rink and Phelps Stadium and the restoration of
Cochran Chapel, is project manager. He calls this project a challenge
because it is so technically precise, requiring a lot to be accomplished
within a very small footprint. The design team includes architects
Bruner/Cott and structural engineers MacLeod Consulting. The contractor,
Consigli Construction, has just completed Bowdoin College’s
winter months are being used to gather materials. Bricks to match
the existing ones are being manufactured, and new bells are being
cast. Between mid-March and mid-April, depending on the harshness
of the New England winter, Williams expects the dismantling of
the existing tower to begin. The belfry that tops the tower will
be taken down in sections and the bells removed. The existing
steel structure will be removed, and the tower will be taken down
brick by brick.
in July 2005, the tower will be rebuilt with a reinforced cinderblock
core and brick veneer. “The exterior tower will look the
same, but the interior structure will be totally different,”
says Williams. Most of the granite on the base will be restored
rather than replaced.
scheduled completion date is January 2006. Even though the tower
will be down during his class’s 60th reunion this June,
Morris says his classmates will be pleased to see construction
under way. “It shows the academy’s commitment to rebuild,”
he says. “I’m going to encourage all my classmates
to come back the following year and witness the rededication.
We’re going to arrive in force.”