||This article should be divided into sections by topic, to make it more accessible. (April 2013)|
Harkness Tower over the year
|Architectural style||Collegiate Gothic|
|Location||New Haven, Connecticut|
|Current tenants||Yale University Guild of Carillonneurs|
|Height||216 ft. (66 m)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||James Gamble Rogers|
|Other designers||Lee Lawrie, sculptures|
The tower was constructed between 1917 and 1921 as part of the Memorial Quadrangle donated to Yale by Anna M. Harkness in honor of her recently deceased son, Charles William Harkness, an 1883 Yale graduate and the second son of Stephen V. Harkness, an early investor in the company that became Standard Oil. It was the first couronne ("crown") tower in English Perpendicular Gothic style built in the modern era.
James Gamble Rogers, who designed the tower and many of Yale's "Collegiate Gothic" structures, said it was inspired by Boston Stump, the 272-foot (83 m) tower of the parish church of St Botolph in Boston, England. The 15th-century Boston Stump is the tallest parish church tower in England. Rogers also based some details on the 16th-century tower of St Giles church in Wrexham, Wales, where Elihu Yale is buried.
The tower contains the Yale Memorial Carillon, a 54-bell carillon. It is a transposing instrument; the C bell sounds a concert B. Ten bells were installed in 1922 and 44 added in 1966. The instrument is played by members of a student-run group set up for the purpose, the Yale Guild of Carillonneurs, and selected guest carillonneurs. During the school year, the instrument is played twice per day: a half-hour session at 12:30 p.m. and a one-hour session at 5:00 p.m. (Some residents of Branford College and Saybrook College, of which the tower forms a part of the periphery, have been known to call the daily performances "death by bells.") In summer it is played only in the evening, plus a Summer Series of Friday concerts.
Harkness Tower is 216 feet (66 m) tall, one foot for each year since Yale's founding at the time it was built. From a square base, it rises in stages to a double stone crown on an octagonal base, and at the top there are stone pinnacles. From the street level to the roof, there are 284 steps.
It was built of separate stone blocks in the authentic manner, and reinforced with steel in 1966 to handle the new bells in the carillon. Midway to the top, four openwork copper clockfaces tell the hours. The bells of the carillon are behind the clockfaces, fixed to a frame made of steel I-beams. The playing console of the carillon is at the level of the balconies immediately below the clock faces. Lower levels of the tower house a water tank (no longer used), two practice carillons, the old chimes playing console, office space for the Yale University Guild of Carillonneurs, and a memorial chapel.
Its decorative elements were sculpted by Lee Lawrie (1877–1963). The lowest level of sculpture depicts Yale's Eight Worthies: Elihu Yale, Jonathan Edwards, Nathan Hale, Noah Webster, James Fenimore Cooper, John C. Calhoun, Samuel F. B. Morse, and Eli Whitney. The second level of sculpture depicts Phidias, Homer, Aristotle, and Euclid. The next level of sculpture consists of allegorical figures depicting Medicine, Business, Law, the Church, Courage and Effort, War and Peace, Generosity and Order, Justice and Truth, Life and Progress, and Death and Freedom. The gargoyles on the top level depict Yale's students at war and in study (a pen-wielding writer, a proficient athlete, a tea-drinking socialite, and a diligent scholar), along with masks of Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare.
James S. Hedden was the contractor's supervisor for the project. His photographs of the early construction are in Yale University Library's Manuscripts and Archives Collection, listed under "James S. Hedden Photographs of Memorial Quadrangle, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library."
The tower was renovated between September 2009 and May 2010, when the Tower was shrouded with blue construction netting and carillon playing suspended.
The tower's image was adopted by the Yale Herald, a weekly student newspaper, for its masthead.
Yale tour guides frequently mention the legend that the Tower was the world's tallest free-standing stone structure until it required reinforcement after an eccentric architect or philanthropist ordered acid to be poured down the walls to make it look older. In reality, the Washington Monument was the country's tallest such structure long before Harkness Tower was built.
The witticism, attributed to various modernist architects, that had he to choose any place in New Haven to live he would select the Harkness Tower, for then he "would not have to look at it," is apparently apocryphal, derivative of a similar story told of Alexandre Dumas and the Eiffel Tower.
- Tritia Yamasaki, "The Character of Harkness Tower"
- Hedden, James S. "Guide to the Photographs of Memorial Quadrangle, Yale University."
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Harkness Tower.|
- Yale University
- Yale Memorial Carillon
- Branford College
- Collegiate Gothic
- Gothic revival architecture
- Comparison with St Botolph's
- Yale University Guild of Carillonneurs
- Article "The Character of Harkness Tower" by Tritia Yamasaki, Yale class of 1996
- Yale University official web site