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Feldman, Jim / The buildings of the University of Wisconsin

Carillion tower,   pp. 227-228

Page 227

Fig. 1. The carillon tower c. 1938. [Series 9/1, Caril-
,                    The carillon tower was built with donated funds in
1936, with a set of 35 bells. The bells have been
added to twice, in 1963 and 1973. More than any
other campus building, the carillon tower symbolizes
the Madison campus of the University of Wisconsin.
"he original plan of the class of 1917 was-to
collect money to help replace the burned dome
T     on Bascom Hall, and to install in the dome a set
of chimes. As this fund-raiser gradually took shape,
succeeding classes (1917 through 1926) donated to
that fund, rather than set up and define their own
projects. In 1931 after consultation with state architect
Arthur Peabody, it was found that both structurally
and aesthetically, it was very unlikely that the dome
would ever be rebuilt.1
The fund-raising had been so successful that the
committee decided in the spring of 1932 that they
could buy not only carillon bells, but a structure in
which to hang them. Throughout the fund-raising
period, the chairman of the "chimes committee" was
Norris Wentworth. By the end of 1932 the regents had
authorized final design and bids. The location was set
as the knoll northwest of Bascom Hall near the Blackhawk marker.2
State architect Arthur Peabody submitted a design for the Carillon tower to the chimes fund
on June 9, 1933. The tower was eighty five feet high, twenty feet square, with a steel frame and
stone walls; it had a stone parapet above the cornice and a flat roof. The iron stairs lead steeply to the
third level playing floor, and upwards to the bell chamber, with its arched openings. The Madison
rubble stone walls and the balustrade with turned stone balusters deliberately mirrored the design of
Bascom Hall. Estimates indicated that the project would cost about $30,000.3
When bids for construction were received, prices had risen and there was little money left for
the bells. The committee appealed to the Public Works Administration and the Public Works Admin-
istration (PWA) responded with a grant of $8700-$11,600. On October 10, 1934 the regents ap-
proved the lowest bid of $28,200 of Maas Brothers of Watertown Wisconsin. Ground was broken the
next day. The cornerstone ceremony featuring a dedication speech by president Glenn Frank (see Fig.
2) was held December 5, 1934. The tower construction was completed in June 1935.4
The committee had decided through investigation of existing carillons, that a set of thirty five
bells would be suitable. They made contact with several bell manufacturers before deciding on Gillett

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