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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower, UNC (Chapel Hill)

  • Type

    Bell

  • Subjects

    Educational Institutions

  • City

    Chapel Hill

  • County

    Orange

  • Description

    The 172 foot tower is a functional bell tower capped by a pointed spire. The top of the tower houses the bells and an observation area. The base of the tower is a covered archway, with open access through three arches on each side. The belfry originally contained twelve manually operated bells. Today it houses fourteen mechanical bells. The surrounding hedge and lawn were designed by William C. Coker, a professor of botany at the University and the creator of the campus arboretum.

    Images: 1982 NCAA trophy at Bell Tower | Postcard image of Bell Tower | Postcard image of South Road and Bell Tower

  • Inscription

    The largest of the bells is inscribed with the name of Governor John Motley Morehead, the grandfather of John Motley Morehead III.

  • Custodian

    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

  • Dedication Date

    November 26, 1931

  • Decade

    1930s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.908600 , -79.049200 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "1982 NCAA trophy at Bell Tower," in the Hugh Morton Collection of Photographs and Films (P081), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Link

      "Bell Tower, University of N.C., Chapel Hill, N.C.," in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (accessed May 14, 2013) Link

      "Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill," in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (accessed May 14, 2013) Link

      "South Road and Bell Tower," in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, (accessed May 14, 2013) Link

      Lawrence Giffin, "Happy Birthday Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower!," For the Record (blog), November 23, 2011, (accessed December 10, 2012) Link

      McNeill, Claire. "UNC senior Michael Crosa takes pride in controlling the Bell Tower's traditional tunes," The Daily Tar Heel (Chapel Hill, NC),December 6, 2011, (accessed December 10, 2012) Link

      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower," The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Virtual Tour, accessed December 10, 2012 Link

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    Stone, metal, brick

  • Sponsors

    John Motley Morehead III and Rufus Lenoir Patterson II

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    The monument was dedicated to the University on Thanksgiving Day in 1931. Governor O. Max Gardner delivered the dedication address.

  • Subject Notes

    In the 1920s, John Motley Morehead III had proposed the idea of a bell tower to then UNC President Harry Woodburn Chase. Morehead wanted to place the tower on South Building but the university declined. In 1926, Morehead again proposed the tower on top of plans for what would become the Wilson Library, however Wilson wanted a dome on top of the building. Morehead later suggested another location without success. The idea was finally realized through the combined sponsorship of Morehead and Patterson, a New York businessman. The tower is closed to the public, however each May graduating seniors may climb the tower to enjoy the view.

  • Location

    The tower sits on the east side of South Avenue, next to Fetzer Gym and near Kenan Stadium.

  • Landscape

    The hedge and lawn area designed by William C. Coker frame the tower. Pedestrian paths lead from the area to the stadium on one side and to the sidewalk along South Avenue on the other side.

  • Post Dedication Use

    Each May, graduating seniors may climb the tower for a view.

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