Beta Bell Tower
The Beta Bell Tower is one of three towers on Miami University's campus. It was designed by Charles Cellarius, an architect responsible for much of the unifying Georgian architecture the Miami is known for having. Its bells serve the purpose of telling time, rather than playing songs and hymns throughout the day. On the quarter hour, the four bells ranging from 600-3,000 pounds ring in what is known as the Westminster Series.
The tower was a gift to Miami University from the Beta Theta Pi fraternity for their centennial celebration in 1939. Beta Theta Pi was founded at Miami University in 1839 in Harrison Hall and a chapter remains to this day on campus. Their mission statement is "develop men of principle for a principled life". This tower is one of numerous pieces of architecture donated by different fraternities and sororities on Miami’s campus, a testament to the heavy prevalence of Greek life amongst students.
In addition to the tower having a direct connection with students through its affiliation with a fraternity, the Beta Bell Tower is known for being in the center of campus where most students see it on a daily basis. Its location directly adjacent to the eponymous Bell Tower Dining Hall, which stresses that another place on campus is literally defined by this structure.
Following a series of interviews with students walking past the Tower, it is clear to see that this is a piece of art/ architecture that people have feelings about, whether they be sentimental for its “classic Miami aesthetic” (a product of the architect Charles Cellarius), or appreciative for its functionality in telling the time every fifteen minutes. Other people have a hard time reconciling this piece as a piece of public art, arguing it is little more than a piece of brick architecture. Inside the tower hang four different bells, all of which ring in a different key but are not used for music. In comparison, it is interesting to see how Pulley Tower of East Campus plays songs and consequently, has a significantly larger number of bells (50 to be exact) since they are needed to produce different notes. Although the bells within Pulley Tower do not tell time, the facade features clock faces on all four sides of the structure, an aspect ironically neglected on the Beta Bell Tower despite its sole function being to tell time throughout the day. Miami’s first bell tower, the Beta Bell Tower, is a quintessential Miami landmark that guides people on campus and reminds them of the beauty of Miami on a daily basis.
Chapin, J. (n.d.). Campus home to three towers: Both sights and sounds greet guests. Miami University. Retrieved from http://www.units.miamioh.edu/landscape/chapin/belltowers.html
Runyon, E. (2013). Curiosity leads engineering students to redesign Pulley Tower systems. University News and Communications. Retrieved from miamioh.edu/news/top-stories/2013/06/pulley-tower.html.