Holcomb Carillon Tower, Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana
Posted by: sherpes
N 39° 50.568 W 086° 10.260
16S E 570925 N 4410638
Quick Description: tall and slender musical tower on the north end of an academic campus
Location: Indiana, United States
Date Posted: 9/8/2010 3:45:50 PM
Waymark Code: WM9NDN
Tower supported by three pilons of concrete, about 25 meters in height, supporting three large outdoor bells visible from the ground, and several other smaller bells in a housing box on top of the tower.
A long stairway made of Indiana limestone leads to the summit of the hill where the carillon is located.
From an article of the Butler Collegian, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the carillon:
Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of a prominent Butler University landmark, the Mrs. James Irving Holcomb Memorial Carillon tower, known commonly as “the bell tower.”
The bell tower to celebrate its 50 years of existence with a special memorial concert Saturday. at 9:30 a.m. with a tribute to its debut performance, as well as works by carillonneur, William Engle.
A carillon is a musical instrument containing at least 23 tuned bells. While the bell tower has an automated chime system, set with a clock to go off every hour to remind students not to be late to class, the purpose of the tower is to project the sound from a carillon out into the gardens.
Carillon concerts were held in the gardens at 5 p.m. every Sunday between June and September.
Last Sunday marked the final concert of the regular season. During concert season and after, concert goers find themselves wandering through Holcomb Gardens or into the garden house where William Engle, Butler’s carillonneur, plays. But most people enjoy the music from benches or rocks surrounding the adjacent pond.
“We’ve been coming for about three years, first of all because our daughter was teaching here, and she used to come over and listen, but we still come because it’s a nice, relaxing place to sit,” Gloria Boedeker said.
“It’s just a beautiful, beautiful spot, and you can see the koi, the fish, swimming. We just love coming here, and it’s friendly, especially when school is open. All the students go by with their bikes and their dogs and they all say hello. It’s very pleasant.”
Boedeker and her husband, Roy, listened to a concert relaxing on chairs at a top of the hill leading to the bell tower and pond.
Another Butler alumna, Angela Roessler, sings the praises of the bell tower.
“I was a student here from 1996 to 2000, so I always come back,” Roessler said, “and I brought my son to have him check out the bell tower. I like bell towers in general, and I wanted to see what he’d think about it.”
She and her son heard a concert while walking the paths of the garden, feeding ducks and throwing rocks into the pond.
These kinds of relaxing and pleasant experiences were Holcomb’s intentions upon creating the gardens and the bell tower, Engle said.
“He thought the best thing you could do to leave a legacy is to beautify a college campus,” Engle said. “Holcomb’s idea was, why don’t we try to make this as nice of a university as we can while it’s here.”
Holcomb, who served as a former chairman of trustees of Butler, went to famous universities on the east coast to get an idea of their bell towers and their aesthetic qualities.
“Most of those schools were copied off of the European schools, Cambridge and Oxford,” Engle said. “You have these gothic kinds of buildings, you have these churches, a lot of them were church schools, and many of them have bell towers. Most of the Ivy Leagues you can think of had bell towers on campus.”
Holcomb dedicated the bell tower to his wife, who passed away the year before it was erected in 1959.
He intended for the tower to serve as homage to a college education, thus engraving it with quotations from well-known poets, authors and political figures. The bell tower’s grandeur, coupled with the garden’s beauty, attracts many visitors each week.
In celebration of the upcoming anniversary, Engle, who has been playing the carillon for more than 30 years, will perform a special memorial concert Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
In honor of the dedication that took place so many years ago, Engle will try to repeat the original program as closely as possible along with some pieces of his choosing to reflect the last 50 years.
The bell tower, aside from being a landmark, is also a lasting Butler tradition.
The bells ring every year during the morning of Homecoming, commencement and other school celebrations.
In past years, they were even used for activities, such as sorority pinning, Engle said.
“The sororities would pin and then throw the guy in the lake, I used to play for that,” he said.
Having a beautiful place to visit, no matter the purpose, is a privilege on Butler’s campus—young children, students and adults alike flock to Holcomb to relax and experience the gardens’ splendor.
“I’ve had people come, and some of them are not able to even get out of their car much, but they’ll run the windows down, and sit there and write letters or read or they’ll just be,” Engle said.
“They find a peacefulness to the sound of the bells.”
4600 Sunset Ave
Indianapolis, IN USA
Who controls the carillon?: Butler University
Number of bells: 3
Year of construction: 6/1/1959
Structure: free standing
Schedule of regular public performances: Not listed
Location web page: Not listed
An original photograph of the carillon is required. One of you and your crew doing your very best imitation of Quasimodo and/or Esmeralda will be most appreciated.