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MSU holds ribbon-cutting ceremony for Little Bell Tower’s new bells

Morehead State University is now hearing new and improved sounds from a familiar campus landmark.  

In February, MSU finished installing four new bronze bells in the Little Bell Tower. The University will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Little Bell Tower commemorating the new bells at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 27.   

Built in 1997, the Little Bell Tower was a gift from the late Lucille Caudill Little. The four-story bell tower previously featured an electronic carillon controlled by a computer in the Camden-Carroll Library. MSU named the tower in honor of Lucille, a former faculty member, and her husband, the late W. Paul Little, both long-time Lexington philanthropists.   

Due to disrepair, there hasn't been bell sounds coming from the tower in over 10 years. Kim Oatman, assistant vice president for facilities and operations, said they received lots of questions about why the bell tower did not have real bells. The Student Government Association (SGA) leaders asked what it would take to get bells in the bell tower.  

"Through our research, we found an opportunity to purchase a set of used bells from an existing church that was being torn down," Oatman said. "Funding was worked out and we took advantage of the opportunity to get the used, low-cost bells for a fraction of what new bells would cost."    

"Considering that the Bell Tower is one of the main landmarks of MSU's campus, the SGA felt that it was only right that the bell tower should toll again," said Emily Wiley, a senior from London and president of SGA. "SGA has been entertaining the idea for years but finally took the opportunity to do so."  

SGA initiated the project in 2021. It was financed primarily through MSU's surplus COVID-19 funds for approximately $55,000. The oldest bell foundry in the country, McShane Bell Company, partnered with MSU to acquire three bells cast by the Meneely Bell Company in 1929 and a McShane bell cast in 1940.  

Oatman said the biggest challenge was making sure the structure could hold the heavy bells. The bells range from 18 inches to 29 inches in diameter and weigh between 400 and 2,000 pounds. It resulted in MSU hiring a structural engineer to assess the structure and design a frame that could safely hold the bells, which were placed and mounted with the help of a crane and a lift. The bells also feature an electronic control panel that causes electromagnetic strikers to ring the bells that play four-bell peals, strikes every hour and simple tunes. The largest bell features the inscription "Student Government Association 2021."  

"The feedback we have received has been positive. Our campus community likes the added functionality of the bells," Oatman said.  

"Bringing the bells back to campus has been long overdue for quite some time now, and SGA is grateful to have had the opportunity to have a hand in improving the MSU experience for students, employees and alumni alike," Wiley said.   

For more information about the Student Government Association, visit www.moreheadstate.edu/sga, email sga@moreheadstate.edu or call 606-783-2071.