Orton Bell Tower

When we were deciding what the focuses would be for our “Twelve Days of Buckeyes” posts this year, the first one was easy: For the 12th day, we have to talk about the dozen chimes on top of Orton Hall.

The building, which opened in 1893, was more than two decades old before the chimes were installed. They were a memorial gift from the classes of 1906-11, 1913 and 1914, and they were dedicated on June 15, 1915, at the Spring Commencement ceremony, where OSU Pres. William Oxley Thompson officially accepted them as a gift.

Did you know they cost roughly $8,000 and weigh a total of 7.5 tons? The smallest of the bells weighs 550 pounds, while the largest weighs 3,550 pounds. Total cost of installation was $94.68.

At first, they were rung by hand, but thanks to another gift of $5,000 from the classes of 1919 and 1920, electric strikers were installed to activate the chimes on the outside of each bell.

The musical serenades that walkers hear as they traverse the Oval also were done by hand, first by faculty members, then by School of Music students. However, whoever played the chimes had to walk up 80 feet worth of stairs twice a day to activate clappers that hit the inside of the bells. In 1987, a fully automated system was installed.

The bells sit outside of Orton Hall prior to installation, 1915

Inside the bell tower, 1985