baclock.jpg (1337 bytes)

Peggy Dunn
Okemos Public Schools
Okemos, Michigan

The time in Michigan is:

beaumont1.jpg (18882 bytes)

Beaumont Tower

Located in East Lansing Michigan and founded in 1855 as the nation's first land-grant university, Michigan State  University served as the prototype for 69 land-grant institutions later established under the Morrill Act of 1862 and was  the first institution of higher learning in the nation to teach scientific agriculture. Today, MSU has grown into a  comprehensive research university. The total enrollment of 43,189 is the largest single campus student body of any  Michigan university and among the largest in the country.

Beaumont Tower has been a fixture at Michigan State University since its construction in 1928 at the site of College Hall, the first instruction building at MSU. College Hall was the birthplace of the entire land-grant system. The Tower was donated by John W. Beaumont, an 1882 graduate who was determined that College Hall, which had collapsed during renovation efforts, would not vanish from campus memory. Construction of Beaumont Tower was completed and the tower was dedicated in 1929.

Then President Robert Shaw wished that Beaumont's monument to teaching would serve three functions: as a timepiece for campus activities, as a meeting place and as an inspiration for campus unity. The bells chiming on the  hour and each quarter hour can be heard across campus. Situated in the center of the main campus Circle, it is  ideally suited as a spot to agree to meet others. And as a memorial to College Hall it has helped to preserve the Circle  with little additional, modern construction, leaving it looking much as it did in Beaumont's time.A fourth function has   arisen over the years: rising and visible among the ancient oaks, it draws both the eyes and the spirit upward.

Beaumont Tower even has several legends that have been passed down through generations of Spartans. One  legend maintains that true Spartan status comes only after a kiss in the tower's shadow. Another tells the tale of the   "Beaumont ghost," said to be a student killed during World War II who is doomed to haunt campus looking for the  sweetheart he left behind. Yet another describes how the bells of the carillon sometimes ring by themselves, without  human assistance.

Actually there is now a basis in reality for the carillon bells ringing by themselves. Because of the need for  reparation the carillon had not been used since 1987. The carillon and tower were completely renovated in 1996 and  were rededicated May 3, 1996. The project included partial automation of the bottom 27 bells. There is only  mechanical assistance involved in playing music on the instrument. To play the bells, the carillonneur's  fists strike  the wooden keys and the carillonneur's feet depress the foot pedals. When the keys and pedals are depressed, wires   move the clappers to hit the bells and the bells sound. The more force used in moving the clappers the louder, the  bells sound. Now some of the bells also have a hammer on the outside and these bells, activated by a computer, strike the Westminster Quarters every 15 minutes during the day. Repairs included renovation of the clock and the   Westminster chimes that mark the quarter hours. The MSU carillon now contains 49 bells. The largest bell weighs  two and one-half tons and the smallest bell about 15 pounds. The carillon keyboard is located on the fourth floor of  the tower, up near the bells. You can hear the MSU Fight Song and the beautiful alma mater, MSU Shadows, if you
visit: http://www.msu.edu/dig/msumap/beaumont.html

beaumont2.jpg (13610 bytes)

Wendell Westcott, the Beaumont Tower carillonneur, shared this information about the clock in Beaumont Tower. "The original clockworks of Beaumont Tower were manufactured by Gillette & Johnston and were in place inside the tower from 1927-1996, though they were not functional for the last ten years of their existence. The Gilette & Johnston mechanism rang the chimes by the same drum and peg assembly used in automated bell towers since the 1400s. The new, electronic clockworks were installed in Beaumont Tower in 1996 and were provided by Eijsbouts Bell Foundry (pron. ICE-bouts) of Asten, The Netherlands. Eijsbouts is one of only a couple of bell foundries still in existence in Europe and specializes in the manufacture of bells and carillons." Though their name is on the electronic clockwork mechanism, Mr. Westcott thinks it was probably provided by a sub-contractor. It does not use the old drum and peg mechanism to ring the bells but a series of electronic contacts and magnets.

You can learn more about the history of Beaumont Tower, the carillon and  the renovations by visiting:
http://www.msu.edu/~carillon/msuama01.htm
http://www.msu.edu/~carillon/beaumont.htm
http://www.msu.edu/~carillon/msunsa01.htm
http://www.msu.edu/~carillon/history.htm
http://www.msu.edu/~carillon/index.htm

 

Here is the word poem written by Peggy Dunn's second graders to describe what Beaumont Tower means to them

Big and beautiful
Excellent songs play
Always stands tall; alone at MSU
Under the big blue sky
MSU depends on its marvelous clock
Outside in all kinds of weather
Never be lost when you see the tower
The clock that people adore

Turn around! It's so tall you'll always see it
Oh, see the hands go round and round
Wow the bells are loud!
Everyone loves the clock songs
Runs all day and night
beaumont3.jpg (23274 bytes)