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The Carillon and Thomas Dry Howie Tower

The Carillon and Bell Tower


The carillon and tower were presented to The Citadel by Howie’s classmate, R. Hugh Daniel, and Charles E. Daniel, Class of 1918. The tower and carillon were dedicated on December 5, 1954 with General Mark Clark officiating and with dedicatory remarks by Governor James F. Byrnes. The music of The Citadel carillon was introduced in Charleston by the Noted carillonneur of the Riverside Church in New York City, Dr. Kamiel Lete’vere.

The carillon is one of the largest Dutch bell installations in the Western Hemisphere. The 59 bells, weighing 25,000 lbs., vary in size from 25lbs to 4,400 lbs. for the lowest bass bell. The set was cast at the renowed van Bergen Bell foundary established in 1795 in The Netherlands. The carillon was brought to Charleston August 19, 1954 accompanied by Mr. H. T. van Bergen, a member of the ancient Dutch firm that supervised the installation at The Citadel. The bells bear The Citadel sea, the name of the foundary, and the date 1954. The 23 largest bells are inscribed with individual messages chosen by The Citadel.

A carillon is a set of bronze bells tuned to intervals of the chromatic scale, with a range of two or more octaves. The bells are hung fixed and are rung from a concert type manual keyboard located just below the bell chamber. The keys are struck with the fist and the larger bells are played with the feet. The music is not confined to one tome at a time or even to just the melody. A skilled carillonneur can produce harmony, counter-melody, arpeggios, chords, and other musical figures with graduations of tone color in both high and low bells.

The Bell Tower, constructed of brick with stucco finish to blend with the architecture of the Chapel, is 90 feet high, topping the Chapel by 35 feet; it measures 20 X 20 feet at the base and tapers to 16 X 16 feet at the bell chamber. The tower is surmounted by an attractive cupola of 13 X 13 feet, capped with a copper spindle atop a tile roof. Screened Gothic windows at the bell chamber permit the beautiful tones of the bells to escape and carry great distance. The small narrow windows are primarily for ventilation. The building is equipped with an elevator.

The bell tower and carillon suffered damage from Hurrican Hugo. Harmannus (Harry) van Bergen (‘57), the Class of 1957, and other interested individuals have provided initial funding in bringing the carillon back to its former glory. The tower has been waterproofed and the elevator has been restored. Currently 18 of the bells are playable from an electric keyboard. The bells were played at Homecoming 2002. We plan for Citadel cadets to play the bells prior to every parade and for special occasions.  If you are interested in playing the carillon please contact Mr. Michael Varnadore, at or by phone: (843) 953-5049.

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