Sather Tower

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Sather Tower
Berkeley Landmark  No. 158
Sather Tower, from California Memorial Stadium, at sunset
Location Berkeley, California
Coordinates 37°52′19″N122°15′28″W / 37.87194°N 122.25778°W / 37.87194; -122.25778 Coordinates: 37°52′19″N122°15′28″W / 37.87194°N 122.25778°W / 37.87194; -122.25778
Architect John Galen Howard
Architectural style Gothic Revival
MPS Berkeley, University of California MRA
NRHP reference No. 82004650 [1]
BERKL No.158
Significant dates
Added to NRHPMarch 25, 1982
Designated BERKLFebruary 25, 1991 [2]

Sather Tower is a bell tower with clocks on its four faces on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. It is more commonly known as The Campanile ( /ˌkæmpəˈnli,-l/ KAMP-ə-NEE-lee, -lay, also US: /ˌkɑːm-/ KAHMP-) for its resemblance to the Campanile di San Marco in Venice. It is a recognizable symbol of the university.


Given by Jane K. Sather in memory of her husband, banker Peder Sather, it is the third-tallest bell-and-clock-tower in the world. Its current 61-bell carillon, built around a nucleus of 12 bells also given by Jane Sather, can be heard for many miles and supports an extensive program of education in campanology.

Sather Tower also houses many of the Department of Integrative Biology's fossils (mainly from the La Brea Tar Pits) because its cool, dry interior is suited for their preservation. [3]


Building apartments into the new tower was considered. (Preliminary drawing, 1903, John Galen Howard.) Berkeley campanile study.jpg
Building apartments into the new tower was considered. (Preliminary drawing, 1903, John Galen Howard.)

At 307 feet (94 m) tall, it is the third-tallest bell-and-clock-tower in the world. It includes seven principal floors and an eighth-floor observation deck 200 feet (61 m) above the base. [4]

Designed by John Galen Howard, founder of the Department of Architecture at the University, Sather Tower was completed in 1915 and opened to the public in 1916. [5] It marked a secondary axis in Howard's original Beaux-Arts campus plan and has been a major point of orientation in almost every campus master plan since.

Sather Tower houses a full concert carillon, enlarged from the original 12-bell chime installed in October 1917 to 48 bells in 1979 and the current 61 bells in 1983.

During the Fall and Spring semesters, the carillon is performed for ten minutes at 7:50 a.m., noon, and 6:00 p.m. during weekdays, from 12:00–12:15 p.m. and 6:00–6:10 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 2:00–2:45 p.m. on Sundays and intermittently at other times of the year. [6] The bells also toll the hour 7 days a week between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. At noon on the last day of instruction each semester, "They're Hanging Danny Deever in the Morning" is played. (The song employs only the original set of bells installed in 1917.) Following that, the carillon is silent until the end of finals.

A gift by Evelyn and Jerry Chambers in 1983 endowed the position of University Carillonist as well as practice rooms, practice keyboards, a campanology library, and international Carillon Festivals every five years from the anniversary of the Class of 1928. Private and group lessons are offered in carillon through the Department of Music, subject to auditions and with Music majors receiving priority. Students work on one of Sather Tower's two practice keyboards until they are ready to perform on the carillon itself.

The bell chamber/ observation deck, showing a portion of the carillon Campanile-bells.jpg
The bell chamber/ob­ser­va­tion deck, showing a portion of the carillon
St Mark's Campanile, Venice Venice02.jpg
St Mark's Campanile, Venice

An elevator takes visitors 200 feet up to an observation deck with sweeping views of the campus, the surrounding hills, San Francisco, and the Golden Gate. Admission is free for UC Berkeley students, staff, and faculty, three dollars for seniors, Cal Alumni Association members, and persons age 17 and under, and four dollars for everyone else. [7]

The trumpets of the California Marching Band every year play Cal spirit songs during Big Game week from the top of the tower. Known as the Campanile Concert, the music can be heard throughout the campus and Berkeley, and in some cases, all the way to Oakland.

The surrounding promenade features a grid of pollarded London Plane trees, frequently enjoyed for the sport of slacklining.

On April 16, 1959, a 67-year-old retired attorney jumped to his death, prompting a daily patrol to guard the platform. On January 4, 1961, a 19-year-old undergraduate student committed suicide. Following this second suicide, the University installed glass panes to enclose the viewing platform. These panes were removed in 1979 due to complaints that the panes were muffling the sound of the expanded carillon. In 1981, metal bars were installed. Nevertheless, in 1982, an undergraduate student managed to scale the newly-installed bars but was talked down from the ledge.

Carillon and its history

The Berkeley Carillon originated as a twelve bell chime, cast in 1915 by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough, England. The original bells were a gift of Jane K. Sather, who also gave the university the Sather Tower (in which the bells were housed), Sather Gate (named for her husband the Norwegian-born banker Peder Sather), and endowed chairs in History and Classics. The original bells were installed in 1917 and played for the first time on November 3, 1917, to mark California's Big Game against Washington. The delay between the founding and the installation of the bells was caused by World War I, as well as the US Customs Service in San Francisco.

The original bells all bear the inscription "Gift of Jane K. Sather 1914," acknowledging the benefactress for whom the Tower is named. The largest of the original bells bears an inscription by Isaac Flagg, Professor of Greek, Emeritus, "We ring, we chime, we toll, / Lend ye the silent part / Some answer in the heart, / Some echo in the soul." The current bells range from small 19 pound bells to the 10,500 pound "Great Bear Bell," which tolls on the hour and features bas-relief carvings of bears as well as the constellation Ursa Major.[ citation needed ]

It was soon discovered that these twelve bells were insufficient to play many popular tunes, including the national anthem. During the following decades there were a number of discussions about enlarging the instrument, but nothing came of this need.

A thirteenth bell was installed along with a clock in 1926 to strike the hours. This clock and bell had originally been installed in 1899 in Bacon Hall and were named for William Ashburner, a university regent. [8]

In 1978, the Class of 1928 decided, as a fiftieth anniversary gift to the university, to add some bells. They began a campaign among their members, hoping to raise around $45,000 for a few new bells. In several days they managed to raise over $150,000 and decided at that point to enlarge the chime to a full carillon of forty-eight bells. Bids were sought, and the Fonderie Paccard of Annecy, France, was awarded the contract. The new Class of 1928 Carillon, which incorporated the original twelve bells, was installed and inaugurated in 1979. An article about the new instrument in the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America's publication The Bulletin ended by suggesting that perhaps another class might at some future date consider adding additional bells and making this concert carillon into a grand carillon.

In 1983, Jerry Chambers, a wealthy member of the class of 1928, and his wife Evelyn (class of 1932 and honorary member of the class of 1928), along with the class of 1928, gave a handsome endowment for the carillon. These funds were used to enlarge the instrument to a fully chromatic, five-octave instrument beginning with low G, renovation of two floors of Sather Tower for two practice keyboards, a campanology collection, and a studio for the University Carillonist. In addition, the Chambers Carillon funds, which is the sole source of support for the carillon program at Berkeley, endowed a full-time position for the University Carillonist (one of only five full-time positions in North America), and a carillon festival to be held every five years honoring the Class of 1928, counting from that year.

As of 2008, the carillon program is one of the most active in the world. It offers an instructional program which attracts about thirty students each semester, a performance program of seventeen ten-minute recitals and one forty-five-minute recital each week. There is additionally a professional staff of eight artist performers, and a part-time maintenance person. The carillon program remains fully funded by the generous endowment of Jerry and Evelyn Chambers. [9] [10] [11] [12]

Related Research Articles

Carillon Musical instrument of bells in the percussion family

A carillon is a pitched percussion idiophone played with a keyboard and consists of at least 23 cast bronze bells in fixed suspension and tuned in chromatic order so that they can be sounded harmoniously together. Housed in bell towers, carillons are usually owned by churches, universities, or municipalities. The bells are struck with clappers connected to a keyboard of wooden batons played with the hands and pedals played with the feet. Often, carillons include an automatic system through which the time is announced and simple tunes are played throughout the day.

Netherlands Carillon Bell tower in Virginia, U.S.

The Netherlands Carillon is a 127-foot (39-m) tall campanile housing a 53-bell carillon. The instrument and tower were given in the 1950s "From the People of the Netherlands to the People of the United States of America" to thank the United States for its contributions to the liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi Germany in 1945 and for its economic aid in the years after. The Netherlands Carillon is a historic property listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of Arlington Ridge Park, which is part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. It is owned and operated by the National Park Service. The carillon is situated on a ridge overlooking the Potomac River and Washington, DC, and it provides expansive views of the National Mall, West Potomac Park, and Arlington National Cemetery. Its adjacency to the Marine Corps War Memorial to the north and Arlington National Cemetery to the south draws 1.2 million visitors annually, including recreational visitors from Rosslyn's residential areas. Throughout the day, the carillon automatically plays the Westminster Quarters. On significant days of the year in Dutch and American culture, it plays automated concerts, and from June to August, the director-carillonist Edward Nassor hosts a concert series whereby visiting carillonists perform weekly concerts on the instrument.

Campanology is the study of bells. It encompasses the technology of bells – how they are cast, tuned, rung, and sounded – as well as the history, methods, and traditions of bell-ringing as an art.

Yale Memorial Carillon

The Yale Memorial Carillon is a carillon of 54 bells in Harkness Tower at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower

The Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, or simply Old Joe, is a clock tower and campanile located in Chancellor's court at the University of Birmingham, in the suburb of Edgbaston. It is the tallest free-standing clock tower in the world, although its actual height is the subject of some confusion. The university lists it as 110 metres (361 ft), 99 metres (325 ft), and 100 metres tall, the last of which is supported by other sources. In a lecture in 1945, Mr C. G. Burton, secretary of the University, stated that "the tower stands 329 ft [100 m] high, the clock dials measure 17 ft [5.2 m] in diameter, the length of the clock hands are 10 and 6 ft [3.0 and 1.8 m], and the bell weighs 5 long tons [5.1 tonnes]".

Bell tower Tower that contains one or more bells, or that is designed to hold bells

A bell tower is a tower that contains one or more bells, or that is designed to hold bells even if it has none. Such a tower commonly serves as part of a church, and will contain church bells, but there are also many secular bell towers, often part of a municipal building, an educational establishment, or a tower built specifically to house a carillon. Church bell towers often incorporate clocks, and secular towers usually do, as a public service.

Burton Memorial Tower Clock tower located at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

The Burton Memorial Tower is a clock tower located on Central Campus at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor at 230 North Ingalls Street. Housing a grand carillon, the tower was built in 1936 as a memorial for University President Marion Leroy Burton. This carillon is the world's fourth-heaviest, containing 53 bells and weighing a total of 43 tons.

Chime (bell instrument) Musical instrument of bells in the percussion family

A chime or set of chimes is a carillon-like instrument, i.e. a pitched percussion idiophone consisting of 22 or fewer cast bronze bells. Chimes are primarily played with a keyboard, but can also be played with an Ellacombe apparatus. Chimes are often automated, in the past with mechanical drums connected to clocks and in the present with electronic action. Bellfounders often did not attempt to tune chime bells to the same precision as carillon bells. Chimes are defined as specifically having fewer than 23 bells to distinguish them from the carillon. American chimes usually have one to one and a half diatonic octaves. According to a recent count, there are over 1,300 existing chimes found throughout the world. Almost all of them are located in the Netherlands and the United States, and other countries in Western Europe.

Royal Carillon School "Jef Denyn" Music school in Mechelen, Belgium

The Royal Carillon School "Jef Denyn" in Mechelen, Belgium, is the first and largest carillon school in the world. The Belgian government defines it as an "International Higher Institute for the Carillon Arts under the High Protection of Her Majesty Queen Fabiola". The school has trained many of the foremost carillonneurs of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and houses a rich archive and library.

Shafer Tower

Shafer Tower is a 150-foot-tall (46 m) free-standing bell tower, or campanile with a carillon and chiming clock in the middle of the campus of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. This three million dollar project was completed at the end of 2001 and received final inspection February 2002. Breaking the record for the highest bell tower in Indiana, Shafer Tower is one of the couple hundred examples of carillon bell towers spread among the United States.

Cleveland Tower

Cleveland Tower is a tower and carillon on the campus of Princeton University. Inspired by Boston College's Gasson Hall, the Ralph Adams Cram design is one of the defining architectural features of the Collegiate Gothic Graduate College. The tower was built in 1913 as a memorial to former university trustee and U.S. President Grover Cleveland. A bust of the former president is the centerpiece of the grand chamber at the tower's ground level.

Campanile (Iowa State University)

The Iowa State University Campanile is located on Iowa State's central campus, and is home to the Stanton Memorial Carillon. The campanile is widely seen as one of the major symbols of Iowa State University. It is featured prominently on the university's official ring and the university's mace, and is also the subject of the university's alma mater.

Century Tower (University of Florida) United States historic place

The Century Tower is a 157-foot-tall (48 m) carillon tower in the center of the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida, United States.

Cook Carillon Tower

The Cook Carillon Tower is a 10-story-tall carillon-clock tower located in the center of the Grand Valley State University-Allendale campus in Allendale, Michigan. The tower and carillon were built in 1994 with help from generous donations by Peter C. and Pat Cook for which it is named. The tower is considered to be a major icon of both the university and its campus and creates a notable central focal point on the Allendale campus.

Belmont Tower and Carillon

The Belmont Tower and Carillon is an iconic structure on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The Tower is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Belmont Mansion registration and is prominently featured in the university logo. The current Belmont University Tower and Carillon chimes each hour from 9:00am–8:00pm.

Waag (Alkmaar)

The Waag building is a National monument (Rijksmonument) listed building on the Waagplein in Alkmaar in the Netherlands. On this square Waagplein every Friday from April till the second week of September, the famous cheese market is held. The Dutch Cheese Museum and the tourist information Office (VVV) are also in the building. In the tower is a famous carillon weekly played by a carilloneur and also automatically by a drum chiming the quarters of the hour. There is also the famous automatic horse with knights play in the tower with an automatic trumpetplayer.

Tillman Hall at Clemson University

Tillman Hall is the most famous building on the Clemson University campus. The 3-story brick building with a clock tower is located on a hill overlooking Bowman Field. Tillman Hall is currently the home of the College of Education.

Ronald Barnes (carillonist) American composer and carillonist (1927–1997)

Ronald Montague Barnes was an American carillon player, teacher, composer, and arranger throughout the 20th century. He first began playing the carillon as a teenager at his hometown's church. In 1952, at 24 years old, he was appointed to play the carillon at the University of Kansas, where he developed as a musician. He was later the carillonist for the Washington National Cathedral from 1963 to 1975 and the University of California, Berkeley from 1982 until his retirement in 1995. He was an involved member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, having served as its president, vice president, and several other roles.

Altgeld Chimes

The Senior Memorial Chime, known more commonly as the Altgeld Chimes, is a 15-bell chime in Altgeld Hall Tower on the central campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in Urbana, Illinois, United States.


  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. March 15, 2006.
  2. "Berkeley Landmarks". Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
  3. "Geological Tour of UC – Berkeley: Sather Tower (the Campanile), in fog". Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  4. "The Campanile (Sather Tower)". UC Berkeley Visitor Services. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  5. "Campanile historical timeline - The Campanile" . Retrieved September 4, 2019.
  6. "Sather Tower Carillon". Department of Music. July 22, 2021. Retrieved July 22, 2021.
  7. "The Campanile (Sather Tower)". UC Berkeley Visitor Services. July 22, 2021.
  8. Helfand, Harvey (2002). University of California, Berkeley : an architectural tour and photographs (1st ed.). New York: Princeton Architectural Press. pp. 48–49. ISBN   978-1-56898-293-9.
  9. "Sather Tower Carillon". Archived from the original on November 13, 2009.
  10. "The Seventh Berkeley Carillon Festival & The Sixty-Sixth Congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America". Archived from the original on June 9, 2011.
  11. "Sather Tower Carillon – Berkeley, CA".
  12. "Carillon History". Archived from the original on November 13, 2009.