Old Main bell to be removed for display as senior class gift

University Park, Pa. -- Penn State's senior class of 2009 will see their gift to the University take a giant step toward becoming reality when the historic bell in the Old Main tower is lowered to the ground on Oct. 7. Class members last fall voted to have the bell removed, restored and put on permanent display adjacent to Old Main.

A crane is scheduled to remove the 138-year-old, 1,200-pound bell between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. It will be sent to restoration and conservation specialists, and then returned to campus in time for an April 2010 dedication. Penn State's Office of Physical Plant is working with private contractors to undertake the removal and restoration process.

Thus far, class members have made nearly 3,000 pledges totaling about $200,000 for the senior gift and other University allocations, the largest dollar amount ever committed by a senior class gift at Penn State.

Vehicular traffic behind Old Main and pedestrian traffic at the rear of the building will be restricted during the set-up preparations and removal of the bell. Poor weather conditions may cause the bell's removal to be postponed until the following morning.

The Boston foundry of William Blake and Co. cast the bronze bell in 1871, but exactly when it was installed in the tower of the original Old Main is unclear. The earliest student scrawlings on the bell's interior date from 1892. The bell was in regular use through the end of classes in June 1929, marking the passage of the hours, calling students to class, chapel and other activities.

The bell was removed later that year when the first Old Main was razed to make way for a new Old Main, and was placed in the new structure in 1930. But its role as a regulator of campus life was soon taken over by the chimes, a gift of the class of 1937. Since then, the bell has remained unused and is seen only by visitors during infrequent tours of the tower.

Meanwhile, members of the class of 2010 will have the chance to select their gift to the University during balloting scheduled for the week of Oct. 19.

Visit http://www.giveto.psu.edu/ReasonsForGiving/SeniorClassGift/index.html for more information about Penn State's senior class gift program.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010