Lowry Bell Tower serenades campus again


Belltower"It's great. I love it," Dr. Len Holmes said of the music coming from UNC Pembroke's Lowry Bell Tower.

Sipping coffee on the Bookstore patio, the chemistry professor seemed relaxed. "It's like a park out here," he said.

The Lowry Bell Tower is playing UNC Pembroke's song again.

Silent since the mid-1990s, the Lowry Bell Tower is playing the Alma Mater and marking time again thanks to a complete overhaul this summer. It is sweet music to the ears of Chancellor Allen C. Meadors, who has led the charge for the tower's resurrection.

"The Lowry Bell Tower is a landmark on our campus and should be maintained in a manner that represents the spirit and love in which it was given to the University," Chancellor Meadors said. "I am delighted we have 'brought back' the music to campus!"

Besides a $20,000 sound system, the tower got an $80,000 facelift that displays the University seal embedded in an artist's rendering of UNCP's hawk mascot. The clock's four faces have been brightened and whitened.

The reborn landmark has been well received by students.

"The clock tower's new look gives the campus more of an updated look." Michael Johnson, a senior from Laurinburg.Belltower

"I think it makes the campus look more beautiful," said Jamie Connerton, a junior from Garner, N.C.

The work took place from June through August, and, soon after, a University Bellmaster was named. Lawrence Locklear, who doubles as the University's web publisher, mans the controls of the refurbished tower.

"As part of my duties, I studied the history of the tower and the people who inspired its purchase and construction," Locklear said.

Those people were the late Ira and Reba Lowry.

"The Lowrys were very involved in music and campus life," Locklear said. "They were so passionate about their University, that Mr. Pate wrote the music to the Alma Mater and Mrs. Pate wrote the lyrics."

BelltowerThe Alma Mater, which plays from the carillon at noon and 6 p.m., has been modified only slightly over time to reflect the University's name change.

"Mr. Lowry believed that life is incomplete without music, and a campus is incomplete without a carillon," Locklear said.

In order to bring music to the University, the Lowrys contributed $20,000 of the $50,000 cost of the tower that was erected in 1981 on the Quad.Belltower

Facilities Designer Frank Britt did the design work and supervised the construction.

"The design is inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's stained glass windows," Britt said. "Wright drew heavily upon Native American designs."

A second inspiration was the glass and metal work found in the dome of the U.S. House of Representatives wing of the Capitol, the architect said. The top of the bell tower, that contains the UNCP and UNC system seals and the University's Hawk mascot, was designed by a campus committee.

"The Hawk is looking skyward for inspiration," Britt said of the new version of the mascot. "It symbolizes both power and inspiration."

The grillwork is made from welded aluminum and the seals are caste aluminum. Both were made by Dove's Fabricating in Lumberton.