Uncovering the history of Bratton’s Bells

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Bell Tower
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Arguably the most well-heard feature on Reinhardt’s campus, the Bell Tower rings loud and clear on the hour every day.

Surrounded by a small circular brick area, the tower and the smaller bell that stand alongside it tend to be off the beaten path for most people, but individuals on campus will seldom go a day without hearing the bells. Aside from being a way to alert students and faculty of the time, the Bell Tower holds an important distinction, it is a memorial to past university president W. M. Bratton.

Similar to how the Burgess Echo Garden shares its name with former President J. R. Burgess, the Bell Tower shares its name with former President W. M. Bratton. Although the tower is commonly called “The Bell Tower,” its official name is the W. M. Bratton Memorial Carillon. A carillon, according to the Guild of Carillonneurs of North America, is an instrument composed of at least 23 carillon bells, but Reinhardt’s tower only has four bells. The tower was dedicated homecoming day Oct. 12, 1985.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in August 1985, and according to Reinhardt Librarian and unofficial campus historian, Joel Langford, attendees included Reinhardt alumni, former presidents, and members of the Georgia Methodist Conference. This groundbreaking also included the small bell that sits next to the main bell tower.

Bratton BellThe small bell, alongside the two brick pillars supporting it, serve as a memorial to both Dr. Bratton and the class of 1934. During their years at Reinhardt, the small bell would ring to announce class times and curfews. The pillars were built to mimic the columns erected by the class of 1934 in front of the old administration building that no longer stand. The small bell does not ring on the hour along with the larger bells.

More than 30 years following its construction, the Bratton Bell Tower continues to serve both as a keeper of time and as an iconic landmark for the campus. Time will tell whether or not it joins its counterpart as a symbol of the past, but for now it and the smaller bell serve as two of Reinhardt’s important memorials.

 

Written By: Jacob Howard. Photos By: Jacob Howard. 

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