Iconic carillon towers of the US and Canada

I love listening to carillons. Their harmonic chimes and/or bells sound so relaxing and and radiate beautifully across the countryside. To me they also are quintessential aspect of college. Synonyms for carillons include campaniles and bell towers.

Here is a brief summary about carillons from wikipedia:

“A carillon is a musical instrument that is usually housed in a free-standing bell tower, or the belfry of a church or other municipal building. The instrument consists of at least 23 cast bronze cup-shaped bells, which are played serially to play a melody, or sounded together to play a chord. A carillon is played by striking a keyboard the keys of which are sometimes called “batons” with the fists and by pressing the keys of a pedal keyboard with the feet. The keys mechanically activate levers and wires that connect to metal clappers that strike the bells, allowing the performer, the carillonneur, to vary the intensity of the note according to the force applied to the key.

The carillon is the heaviest of all extant musical instruments; the total weight of bells alone can be 100 tons in the largest instruments. The greatest concentration of carillons is still found in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Northern France, where they were symbols of civic pride and status. “

Below is my personal list of the most iconic carillons, campaniles, or bell towers in the United States and Canada. They are loosely rated based on their architectural design, general setting, appearance/condition, history, proportion (height to width), and uniqueness.

I tried to only include freestanding carillons and did not include those that are attached or incorporated into another structure. Each carillon is listed by name, along with its year of completion, height if known,  and its location.  Hope you enjoy viewing and reading this post as much as I did putting it together. : )

Beaumont Tower Carillon (1929) 104′ – Michigan State University,  East Lansing, MI

Carillon Tower (1936) 85′ – University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

Sather Tower Campanile (1914) 307′ – UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

Kansas University WWII Memorial Carillon (1951) 120′ – Kansas University, Lawrence, KS

Stephen Foster Memorial Carillon (1957) 200′ , Stephen Foster Folk Culture State Park, White Springs, FL

Century Tower (1956) 157′  – University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Campanile (1926) – University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA

Hoover Carillon (1941) – Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

Nancy Brown Peace Carillon (1940) 85′ – Belle Isle Park, Detroit, MI

National Patriot’s Bell Tower and Carillon (1953) – Valley Forge National Park, PA

Luray Singing Tower (1937) 114′ – Luray, VA

Millenium Carillon (2000) 160′ – Riverwalk Park, Naperville, IL

Holcomb Memorial Carillon (1949) 80′ – Butler University, Indianapolis, IN

Cook Carillon Tower (1994) – Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI

Purdue Bell Tower (1995) 160′ – Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Bok Tower (1929) 205′ – Lake Wales, FL

Beckering Family Carillon (2000) 151′ – Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI

Stanton Memorial Carillon (1898) 110′ – Iowa State University, Ames, IA

Joseph Dill Baker Memorial Carillon (1941) – Baker Park, Frederick, MD

Shafer Tower (2002) 150′ – Ball State University, Muncie, IN

Yale Memorial Carillon/Harkness Tower (1922) 216′- Yale University, New Haven, CT

Virginia World War I Memorial Carillon (1932) 240′ – William Byrd Park, Richmond, VA

Fredericks Family Carillon (2000) – Lock Haven University, Lock Haven, PA

Deeds Carillon (1942) 151′ – Carillon Historical Park, Dayton, OH

BYU Centennial Carillon (1975) 97′ – Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Burton Memorial Tower/Baird Carillon (1936) 212′ – University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Westminster Bell Tower (1988) 130′ – Westminster, CO

Brownell Park Carillon 106′ – Morgan City, LA

Longwood Gardens Carillon (1941) 61′ – Kennett Square, PA

Norfolk War Memorial Carillon (1925) 60′  – Simcoe, Ontario

Rainbow Bridge Carillon (1947) 165′ – Niagara Falls, Ontario

Netherlands Memorial Carillon (1968) 90′ –  Victoria, British Columbia

Carroll Chimes Bell Tower (1979) 100′ – Main Strasse Village, Covington, KY

Mary M. Emery Memorial Carillon (1929) 100′ – Dogwood Park,  Mariemont, OH

McFarland Carillon Bell Tower (2009) 185′ – University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL

Carillon Beach Bell Tower – Panama City, FL

This entry was posted in architecture, art, Canada, Cities, Music, Purdue. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Iconic carillon towers of the US and Canada

  1. Pingback: Ringing patriotic thanks – the AMVETS national carillon memorial program « Progressive Blogic

  2. Peter says:

    Rick, nice collection–thanks! I live in Urbana, Illinois, and see the McFarland Carillon (second from last in this post) almost every day. It disappointingly looks like a flash drive. Can someone tell me who the architect was, please? There is no name on any U of Illinois or other webpage I’ve looked at.

    The one interesting thing about this carillon is that it and the old carillon in the Altgeld Hall tower, less than 1/2 mile north, both play the “Westminster Chimes” to mark the quarter hours, with the hours further marked by the appropriate number of “dongs.” It seems the two are kept separate, but the close pairs of practically identical chiming sometimes catches your ear.


  3. The wrong Picture has been included for Millenium Carillon (2000) 160′ – Riverwalk Park, Naperville, IL. You have a duplicate pictue of Shafer Tower at Ball State Univeristy, in Muncie, Indiana at night. The Shafer tower picture is correct. The Millenium Carillon picture muast be something else.


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