Baughman Center
Century Tower
Smathers Library
University Auditorium
Plaza of the Americas

Familiar Tunes

For a UF student who spends much of his or her day on campus, perhaps no melody is more recognizable than that of the carillon bells in Century Tower.
The bells chime on every quarter of the hour, playing more and more of the familiar melody each quarter until the entire song is played at the top of every hour.

Memorial to Fallen Soldiers

Century Tower itself is also a hard monument to miss. It stands 157 feet tall in the center of campus, just adjacent to a popular gathering place on campus, Turlington Plaza.
Century Tower was built in 1953 as a memorial for students killed in the two World Wars as well to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of UF’s parent institution, Kingsbury Academy in Ocala. (Tower)

An Historic Purchase

The Tower was complete in 1956, but the plan to put a carillon in the top of the tower would not be fulfilled for another 20 years due to a lack of funding. In the meantime, two Florida businessmen, J.E. and A.D. Davis, purchased an electronic-chime instrument which tolled the hour between 1956 and 1975, when it finally broke down.
The carillon that now stands in Century Tower was purchased in 1976 using $200,000 UF had accumulated from several generations of student fees. Though it was a large amount of money to dedicate to such an endeavor, the purchase of the carillon received unanimous support from the Student Senate at the time.(Tower)

Quick facts about the carillon:

-The carillon contains 61 bells and has a range span of 5 octaves.
-The smallest bell in Century Tower, which plays a high C, weighs 26 pounds and is 7 and 1/8 inches in diameter.
-The largest bell, called the Bourdon bell, plays a low A-sharp. It stands five feet tall, weighs about 7,000 pounds and is five feet, nine inches in diameter.
-The entire carillon weighs 57,760 pounds.
-The carillon chimes each quarter of the hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
-Students at UF can take a carillon class where they are required to climb the 194 steps in Century Tower to play the bells for a grade.
-The carillon is played using 61 keys (or “batons”) for the hands and 25 pedals for the feet. The musician sits in a small room just below the bell chamber.
-There are fewer than 200 carillons in North America and only four in Florida.


This site is not in any way affiliated with the University of Florida. All photos taken by Alice Wallace.   Home Bibliography