Sunday, June 9, 2013

Baker Bell Tower

A few times each year, Dartmouth College opens up its famous Baker Bell Tower for tours. The tower, part of the Baker Library, was designed after Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It is 200 feet above campus and is often the visual that represents Dartmouth's campus. Anyone who is able, is invited to climb the steps to the top and view the vastness of the Upper Connecticut Valley. 

I didn't learn about the tours until fall of Ryan's second year, so my opportunities were limited. As each date approached, something else was on the calendar already, so I knew that the day of Commencement was my only chance. 

After the ceremony, we got both girls home and resting and Ryan's parents stayed to watch them while Ryan and I ventured back up to campus and up the stairs to the tower. 

And it was worth the climb. 

The view was incredible. 

It's no wonder we fell in love with New Hampshire. 

 West (and a view of Tuck drive...)

A bit about the bells (from Dartmouth's website):

"Ernest Martin Hopkins, Dartmouth College President 1916-1945, Class of 1901, had visited Oxford and Cambridge and was much impressed with the bell-ringing on those campuses. When Baker Library was constructed, a trustee, Clarence B. Little, Class of 1881, donated $40,000 for a set of bells to be placed in the tower of the library, in order to please President Hopkins.

"Meneely Bell Company of Troy, New York custom-built a 15-bell set. The bells vary in size from 200 to 5,300 pounds. They range an octave and a half on the scale, playing every note in that range, except E flat.

"The bells first rang in 1928. They were rung manually for the first year. The following year, William Durrschmidt, an instrument maker and Professor of Music, invented an automation system from three machines and a clock. It was similar to the mechanism of a player piano, where holes are punched into a roll of paper and the locations of the holes triggered the bell mechanism. There was also a keyboard in the tower, so people could play "instantaneous music" on the bells.

"In 1979, the bells were computerized. Two students designed a system to run the bells, as the system and the paper rolls used for the first 50 years were starting to wear out.

"A 16th bell was donated in 1981 in memory of Donal F. Morse '51. Money was also provided for the maintenance of the system and pay for the bell ringer.

"The bells currently run via wireless access. An iMac computer in the tower runs custom-designed software that a graduate student in electro-acoustic music programs.

"Bells ring the time on the hour and half hour. Songs are played three times a day - the alma mater at 6pm, and varying pieces during intervals between classes. Songs can be requested by blitzing "Bells". Requests aren't guaranteed, but are most welcome....Some current favorites:
Barbie Girl, My Old Kentucky Home, Pomp and Circumstance, Tired of Being Alone, Happy Birthday, Hey Jude, Hi Ho Hi Ho, In Your Eyes, Indiana Jones Theme, Jeopardy Theme, Lean on Me, Lullabye, Maria, Smurfs, Stand by Me, Yellow Submarine, You are My Sunshine, Bright Sunshiney Day, Feeling Groovy
"Dartmouth College is one of the last few places that still uses real bells instead of recordings or synthesizers. Bells are turned each year so that the hammers don't wear out the same spot on each bell, and we can be guaranteed the enjoyment of these real bells for years to come."

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