Tradition rings true on Washburn campus

Julia Eilert

The bells will ring their age-old song once again as the Kheune Bell tower reactivates this week. 

The lighting ceremony is taking place at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 29, where spectators gathered to watch the bell tower light up the night.

“I didn’t even know that the tower was supposed to chime,” said Cole Herring, freshman exploratory major, “I see it when I walk around campus, but I just assumed it was more for aesthetic when it never rang.”

The Kuehne Bell Tower was built in 1971 and was funded by Fred and Julia Kuehne. Arthur L. Johnson, the university architect at the time, designed the tower at the request of the president, John Henderson.

The bells were recycled from Thomas gymnasium which was destroyed in the 1966 tornado. There are four bells in total, ranging in weight from 275 to 1,200 pounds.

“It’s nice to hear them, it’s sort of a continuation of Washburn’s history,” said Martha Imparato, special collections librarian, “It’s kind of a focal point of campus, so it’ll be nice to have it for the holiday season.”

The bells were not working at the beginning of the semester, but will chime for the remainder of the term.

The old chimes went with a set of lyrics, “O’ Lord our God be thou our guide- while life shall last no fool can slide.”

“I don’t know what to expect, but I hope the sound is pleasant, especially if it plays often- I’m reluctantly optimistic I guess,” said Herring. “The fact that they reused the bells is cool. I think it goes to show how Washburn tries to keep their past alive on campus, even when it comes to unfortunate events like the tornado.”

The bells are controlled by an automated system in the basement of Morgan, which has multiple chimes that play with the four differently-sized bells.

“The most important part for me is when the building was destroyed, Washburn figured out a way to do something else with the bells,” said Imparato, “It’s nice to preserve their history. It kind of goes with the legacy- it still lives on.”