Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA Board of Regents approve Griffith Fine Arts Carillon Bells Project

June 22, 2016 - University Marketing Communications
The Stephen F. Austin State University Board of Regents recently approved a project to restore and enhance the bell tower located atop the Griffith Fine Arts Building on campus. With funding provided by the Charles and Lois Marie Bright Foundation, this project will serve the dual purposes of historic preservation and university enhancement.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - An upcoming project at Stephen F. Austin State University will not be visible to most campus visitors, but will be heard far and wide. With funding provided by the Charles and Lois Marie Bright Foundation, the university will restore and enhance the bell tower located atop the Griffith Fine Arts Building on campus.

Approved during a recent specially called meeting of the SFA Board of Regents, the project serves a dual purpose-historic preservation and university enhancement.

"This is a win-win situation," said Dr. A.C. "Buddy" Himes, dean of SFA's College of Fine Arts. "The Bright Foundation is an avid supporter of preservation and restoration of properties that support the recording of Nacogdoches history. The SFA campus and community will certainly benefit from the Bright Foundation's assistance with funding this project, which will preserve the region's only authentic bell tower."

Built in 1959 as part of the Griffith Fine Arts Building's original blueprints, the bell tower currently houses 15 bells. The restoration project will add 10 bells to create a carillon, a two-octave musical instrument that consists of 25 cast-bronze, cup-shaped bells, which are played serially to produce a melody, or sounded together to play a chord. The carillon will enable the university to play songs and commemorate special on-campus occasions and holidays.

A new computer system also will be installed to operate the bells allowing for chimes and programming of melodies. The system will include a wireless musical keyboard that can be played remotely.

"The bell tower is gaining new life through this project," said Dr. Trey Turner, SFA executive director of development. "It will be utilized much more than in the past because of its two-octave capabilities. There's something very collegiate and special about real bells chiming. It definitely adds to the on-campus atmosphere and also will benefit the Nacogdoches community."

The installation is expected to take place in two phases. In August 2016, the frame that holds the original 15 bells will be dismantled. Then, a new frame will be built. The original 15 and 10 new bells should be installed in the new frame in December 2016.