To fight the effects of age and weather, Belmont’s historic Bell Tower is undergoing a restoration. Specifically, window frames, tuck pointing and mortar must be replaced before they rot and fall away. The Bell Tower restoration is scheduled to be completed before students arrive on campus in the fall.
The project costs roughly $400,000, received entirely from gifts made to the Bell Tower campaign. In addition to the $400,000 restoration costs, another $100,000 is being raised as an endowment fund to support any future maintenance needed.
As of Aug. 3, the University has received 974 gifts totaling $361,285. The gifts range in size from $1 to $50,000. Helen Kennedy, a member of Belmont’s first graduating class and member of the Board of Trustees, has pledged a $100,000 challenge gift, matching every donation dollar for dollar up to $100,000. All donors will be honored with their names on a plaque in the Bell Tower’s first floor chapel. The plaque will be unveiled at the celebration of completion of the restorations on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. All donors, faculty, staff and students are invited to attend.
Vicky Tarleton, Office of Development, said, “A lot of people have memories associated with the Tower that are really very good memories. It’s one of several true Nashville landmarks.”
The renovations are being done by Republic Construction, which specializes in historical preservation. Republic Construction has also worked on the Ryman Auditorium, the Hermitage, the Tennessee State Capitol and the Belmont Mansion. The work to be done includes replacing windows and window frames, ironwork, stabilization and tuck pointing.
The Belmont Mansion and Bell Tower were built from 1850-1853 as a summer residence for Joseph A. S. Acklen and his wife Adelicia Hayes Franklin. The Bell Tower originally served as a water tower for the gardens and household needs and was converted to a bell tower in the early 20th century. During the Civil War, the tower was used as a signal tower for the Union Army who was encamped on the estate.
If you would like to donate to the Bell Tower fund, contact Vicky Tarleton at 615-460-6001 or Vicky.Tarleton@belmont.edu. The deadline to donate to the Bell Tower campaign is Aug. 31.