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UF Century Tower: All the Bells and Whistles

UF Century Tower: All the Bells and Whistles

Mar 28, 2024

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Housing one of the largest university carillons in North America, Century Tower is one of the most iconic structures on UF’s campus and has a pretty odd legend surrounding it! 

A Little History

Century Tower was completed in 1956 and stands 157-feet tall in the center of UF’s Main Campus. Originally built as a way to commemorate the school’s 100-year anniversary and students killed in World Wars I and II, the tower now serves as one of the most iconic structures on the entire UF campus. 

The Carillon 

Century Tower is one of only four carillons in all of Florida and of the 200 in the US. Per the definition, a carillon must have at least 23 bells. Century Tower has an impressive 61 bells and is proudly among the largest in all the universities of North America. It also has a range of 5 full octaves! 
In a little room found just below the bell chamber, are 61 large batons and 25 pedals. These are used to play the carillon by hand!
The Carillon was installed using funds from student fees from many generations of students and was purchased in 1976 by the Student Senate. The tower’s original 49 bells were cast by the firm of Koninklijke Eijsbouts (Royal Dutch Bell Foundry) of Asten, The Netherlands. Here they were tuned by shaving metal from the inside of the bells making it so they will never have to be tuned again! 
The bells at Century Tower were first run as part of a dedication recital on May 14, 1979. 
A plaque on the tower partially reads:
"Upon the recommendation of President and Mrs. Robert Q. Marston, the carillon is a gift to the campus from students, both past and present, and stands at the center of this community of scholars, marking the movement of time, heralding occasions of importance in the lives of its people, and pealing music of all ages to delight the common spirit." 
Century Tower was last renovated in 2003 - including the installation of 12 additional treble bells, new playing clavier and new radial transmission playing action. 

The Legend

 It is said that each time a virgin graduates, a brick falls off Century Tower. However, this is one legend almost no one really believes, but there is one indisputable fact: the tower still stands tall with each brick still in place.

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