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Pomona College Tower to Chime Again, This Time on the 47th Minute

Smith Memorial Tower at Pomona College

Smith Memorial Tower at Pomona College

The Smith Memorial Tower at Pomona College will again toll hourly by decree of a unanimous vote of the College’s student government, the Associated Students of Pomona College.  In true Pomona College fashion, the chimes will toll on the 47th minute from 9:47 a.m. to 5:47 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. The inauguration celebration of the new campus tradition will occur this Thursday, Nov. 4, at 5:15 p.m., with the first bell tolling at 5:47 p.m.

The 125-foot Smith Memorial Tower, located next to the Norton, Clark and Walker residence halls, was designed by architect John Rex and built in 1961, for a cost of approximately $150,000.  Each wall of the tower holds an eight-foot clock and inside is a 2,350-pound replica of the Liberty Bell. The tower is named for Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Sexton Smith, of San Diego.

For decades the bell tolled hourly, on the hour, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. In 1999, The Verdin Company of Ohio, which installed the original clocks and bell, was hired to repair the clocks and to add an electronic carillon (the Verdin Singing Tower).  When the hourly chimes resumed in January 2000, the College quickly learned that current students were less than appreciative of the hourly chimes.

“Almost immediately,” reports Senior Associate Dean Frank Bedoya, “students complained about the ‘loud bell tolls’ right outside their rooms…. As a result of the complaints, maintenance disconnected the chimes, and they’ve been off ever since."

The idea of restarting the hourly bells began in informal conversations during the summer and response was generally positive, according Stephanie Almeida '11, ASPC president. Once the Senate had confirmed that the bells could be restarted, it took only a week to come to agreement on how and when the clock should chime.

“It was truly a team decision,” says Almeida. “This year’s Senate committed itself to fostering school spirit and community on campus, and I think it recognized that starting a unique clock tower tradition at Pomona would be a great way to work towards those goals. The student Senate vote to restart the bells, on the 47th minute, from 9:47 a.m. to 5:47 p.m., was unanimous.

The inauguration will be celebrated with an on-campus party hosted by the ASPC and the Committee for Campus Life and Activities.

To learn more about the number 47 and Pomona College’s connection to it, visit www.pomona.edu/about/pomoniana/the-mystery-of-47.aspx.