Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Davis Memorial Carillon

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Institution Name: Alfred University
Original/Historic Place Name: Davis Memorial Carillon
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1937original construction; original tower Unknown
1953original construction; present tower Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: concrete
Walls: steel beams; glass
Roof: wood; rubber membrane
1953-present (2007)bell tower (carillon)

Significance: architecture
Landmark designation:
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Alfred University has the oldest carillon bells in the Western Hemisphere. The Davis Memorial Carillon currently houses 47 bells, 18 of which were cast in 1674 and 12 in 1737. The largest bell weighs 3,850 pounds while the smallest weighs 19.
The original 35 bells arrived in Alfred in 1937 from Antwerp. The carillon was considered a living memorial to Dr. Boothe Colwell Davis, Alfred University president from 1895 to 1933, and his wife, Estelle Hoffman Davis. The wooden tower that originally contained the carillon bells was replaced in 1953 by an open steel tower, and additional bells were purchased. More bells were added in 1977 to bring the carillon to its current configuration. In 1981-1982 the open steel tower was enclosed and interior renovation was done.
For over six decades, the Alfred community has listened to the carillon bells playing on a regular basis. During the summer, the Wingate Memorial Carillon Concert Series brings carillonneurs to play the bells.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Horowitz, Gary, ed. A Sesquicentennial History of Alfred University: Essays in Change. Alfred, NY: Alfred University, 1985.

"New York State Historic Preservation Building-Structure Inventory Form," (n.d.) Herrick Memorial Library Archives, Alfred University.

Norwood, John Nelson. Fiat Lux: The Story of Alfred University. Alfred, NY: Alfred University, 1957.

Strong, Susan Rumsey. The Most Natural Way in the World: Coeducation at Nineteenth Century Alfred University. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rochester, 1995.

II. Location of other data:
University: Special Collections, Facilities Management Office

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Last update: November 2006