Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower

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Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower
Bell tower in Chapel Hill (cropped).jpg
Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower is located in North Carolina
Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower
Location within North Carolina
General information
LocationChapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
Coordinates35°54′31″N 79°02′57″W / 35.9086°N 79.0492°W / 35.9086; -79.0492Coordinates: 35°54′31″N 79°02′57″W / 35.9086°N 79.0492°W / 35.9086; -79.0492
Height172 feet (52 m)

The Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower, simply referred to as "the bell tower," is a functioning bell tower located on the campus of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is a 172-foot-tall tower with a Roman numeral clock built in on each of the four sides of the tower. The top of the bell tower holds an observation area. It is topped by a conical spire structure. The area around the bell tower is surrounded by hedges and a grass lawn designed by a University botany professor Coker, who also designed the Coker Arboretum on campus.[1] The tower is one of the most visible landmarks on campus.


The idea of erecting a bell tower on the University of North Carolina campus was originally suggested by John Motley Morehead III in the 1920s, but it was denied several times by the University because of conflicts regarding the location. When the idea was finally approved, the construction began with the funding of two sponsors, Morehead and Rufus Lenoir Patterson II. The tower was designed by McKim, Mead & White, an architectural firm.[2]

The tower was dedicated and received by Governor Oliver Max Gardner on Thanksgiving day of 1931 with an acceptance address.[3]


The belfry originally began with 12 manually operated bells made by Meneely Bell Foundry in 1931. It is currently equipped with 14 mechanized bells with the addition of 2 bells by Petit & Fritsen in 1998.[4] The names of prominent figures in the University history, Governor John Motley Morehead and William Lenoir, are inscribed on the two largest bells.[5]

The bells ring every 15 minutes, chiming on the hour. In addition, the bells play other songs or the alma mater as part of University celebrations or holidays.


  1. ^ "Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower, UNC (Chapel Hill)". Comemortative Landscapes. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  2. ^ "Morehead-Patterson Memorial Bell Tower". Visit Chapel Hill. Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower Memorial". Governor O. Max Gardner. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  4. ^ "CHAPEL HILL : USA - NC". Tower Bells. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  5. ^ "Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower". The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 4 February 2016.

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