Celebrating 100 years of the ISU Campanile

History of the Campanile
History of the Bells
Glossary of terms
Inaugural Program
"Bells of Iowa State"
Images of the Campanile

Iowa State's Campanile

History of the Campanile


Campanile View of the campanile, n.d.
Shows sheep grazing on central campus.


Throughout the twentieth century the Bells of Iowa State have sounded across the campus. The first bells were placed in the Campanile in 1899. Since then they have become an outstanding tradition of the University as well as a unique symbol remembered pleasantly by alumni and campus visitors. This is exactly as their donor, Edgar W. Stanton, wished.

Stanton graduated with the first class at Iowa State in 1872. He spent 50 years on campus as a student and faculty member, becoming the Head of the Department of Mathematics, secretary to the Board of Trustees, dean of the junior college, vice-president, and on four different occasions, acting President.

His first wife was Margaret MacDonald Stanton, first dean of women. When she died, July 25, 1895, she had been closely identified with the University for almost twenty-five years. Stanton wanted to establish a monument so all students and friends of Iowa State would remember her. He finally decided to purchase and have installed a chime of 10 bells in a detached tower on central campus.

President William M. Beardshear helped him choose the site, and the state legislature appropriated $7, 500 for the construction of the tower and its clock.

According to H. Summerfield Day's The Iowa State University Campus and Its Buildings, 1859-1979 (1980), construction began in 1897 and was completed in 1898.  The contractor was J.F. Atkinson and the architect was George E. Hallett.  The final cost was $6,510.20 and the Campanile stood 110 feet tall and its main shaft was 16 feet square. 

Stanton died September 12, 1920, and his will provided that after certain bequests were taken out, the residue of his estate should be turned over to the University for furnishing a memorial to him. His second wife, Julia Wentch Stanton, and the children, decided to request that the University install 26 additional bells, thus forming a musical instrument which became known as the Edgar W. and Margaret MacDonald Stanton Memorial Carillon.

In 1954, the trustees of the Stanton Memorial Trust joined with others to create the Stanton Memorial Carillon Foundation to further the advancement of the carillon at Iowa State. One of the first acts of the Foundatin was to purchase 13 additional treble bells, along with a new keyboard large enough to accommodate a 53-bell carillon. They were installed in 1956, brining the total number of bells in 49. In 1967, a fiftieth bell was added.

Though seldom seen by visitors because they are so difficult to reach, the bells themselves are beautiful to look upon. In addition to their graceful shape and adornments of scroll work, each of the first 10 bells has an inscription in it. The largest bell notes that the carillon is dedicated to Margaret MacDonald Stanton.

Others are:

And soften down the rugged road of life.
Kirke White

Ring merrily, ye chimes, evermore.
Charles McKay

Harmonizing this earth with what we feel above.

My language is understood all over the world.

Every deed of goodness done is like a chord set in the heart.
Thomas MacKellan

Sweetly on the evening air
Sounds the vesper chime of prayer
And rings a thousand memories
At vesper and at prime.

Music is the child of prayer,
The companion of religion.

A woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
Proverbs xxi: 30

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
God is not dead; nor does he sleep;
The wrong shall fail
The right prevail-
With peace on earth, good will to men.




History of the Campanile  |  History of the Bells   |  Glossary of Terms
Inaugural Program   |  "Bells of Iowa State"  |  Images of the Campanile  
Edgar W. & Margaret MacDonald Stanton Memorial Carillon (ISU Music Dept.) 
Special Collections Department (ISU Library)

Comments: archives@iastate.edu
Iowa State University Library, Ames, IA 50011
Revised: 14 March 2000.