Created By: Brandon Inabinet
On the Furman Lake, guests routinely admire the magnificent Florentine belltower in the middle, a major symbol of the university. The chimes each hour symbolize a tradition that goes back as long as Furman and the Greenville Women’s College have been in Greenville.
History of the Bell Tower
The original bell tower was built in 1854 on what use to be the men’s campus in Downtown Greenville. The tower was connected to the “Old Main,” designed by Edward C. Jones of Jones and Lee, a Charleston architectural company.
Within a decade, during the Civil War, Furman’s classes were canceled, but the bell tower was instead used to announce Confederate victories with local residents ringing the bells. Following the Civil War, the bell tower again rang to signal the start of classes. But tradition was invented and, echoing Confederate victories of the past, the bells would celebrate victories of the athletic teams. In the Furman Hornet written in 1958, students flock to the bell tower eager to ring the bells after a football triumph. Postcards from the twentieth century frequently commented on this act as one of Furman's major traditions and symbols, remembering Confederate victories through the school's athletic wins.
Traditions of the Bell Tower
In 1965, this tower was rebuilt to the same specifications as the old one on Furman's current campus and at some point, the old traditions ended. In the place of the class change or victory bells, the chimes play music as wide-ranging to local history as Disney and Harry Potter theme songs to occupy visitors walking around the lake.
Another tradition says that if a man and woman kiss underneath the bell tower, they will be destined to get married. Furman's alumni magazine has made a special effort to push this link.
It is interesting to think to what extent these new traditions, without specific origin, are put in place in lieu of the old . . . or to forget the old without discussing them.
Student Author: Nicole Mack
This point of interest is part of the tour: Hidden Histories of Furman University: Lake Walk