Clocks return to Old Main bell tower

January 27, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- After six months, the painted plywood disks atop the Old Main bell tower on Penn State's University Park campus are no more. The disks served their purpose -- sealing the holes left when the tower's clock faces were removed for renovation last July. The project originally was projected to be completed in October, but difficulty in securing the glass for the faces delayed the completion until now.

The renovation project also includes a new bell-ringing carillon system, which was installed and began operating Friday afternoon, Jan. 27. The new system is a digital recording of the original Old Main Bell that now sits on display adjacent to Old Main, combined with other bells of comparable sizes to get a full tonal range. The new system has been set up to play a wide range of sounds, from the roar of the Nittany Lion, to Penn State's Alma Mater, "Fight on State" and "Hail to the Lion," in addition to the familiar Westminster Quarter chimes.

Over the weekend, workers from New Vibrations Audio and Video removed the plywood and re-installed the renovated faces, originally a gift of the class of 1904.

The renovation project replaced the broken glass and hands, and reuseed the original cast iron frames with its Roman numerals. The restored faces are custom-laminated glass. The original clock mechanism has been replaced with a new automated system controlled remotely by the Office of Physical Plant to ensure all four faces display the correct time.

For photos of work on the carillon system, visit and for photos of the clock face installation, visit online.

  • Jeff Lockard of of New Vibrations Audio and Video successfully captures the first clock face by the east side of the Old Main bell tower. For more photos, click on the image above.

    IMAGE: Annemarie Mountz
Last Updated February 02, 2012