Then and Now: The Clock tower
Quinnipiac’s staple wasn’t always a clock tower
The clock tower on the Quad is a symbol of Quinnipiac to many people in the campus community, but it hasn’t always looked this way.
The bell tower had a different spire when was first constructed in October 1966. It was redesigned in 2000, when the university decided to renovate the Arnold Bernhard Library.
“There were several people who were upset that they destroyed the symbol of Quinnipiac,” said Joe Rubertone, associate vice president for facilities administration.
The original tower was rocket-shaped, and was also the symbol of Quinnipiac at the time. There was mixed response to the change in the university’s icon.
“Change is never easy, but change is inevitable,” Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs, said in a recent statement. “Quinnipiac University has experienced tremendous growth and change over the last 24 years. The physical structure of the library tower may have changed, but much has not.”
The current tower is described as “a beacon of radiating light,” according to Centerbrook Architects and Planners, the company that renovated the tower and the library.
“When we remodeled the library in 2000, the architects advised us the top of the tower was dated architecturally and we needed to put something more timeless on top of the tower, which is when we took down the previous artwork and put on what you see on the tower today,” Rubertone said.
When the proposal for the Mount Carmel campus was drawn up in the early 1960s, university officials had a different plan for the clock tower.
“Urban legend says that the tower was going to be in the center of the quadrangle and not attached to the library,” Rubertone said. “But in 1964 or 1965, if you were going to get any government funding, the tower had to be part of the building. So they took it out of the quadrangle and put it on the front of the building.”
The tower encompasses a Carillon, the device that plays the music, donated by the Nils Sahlin family. New music is added to the bell tower playlist every few years, Rubertone said. But choosing new songs isn’t as glamorous as being a disc jockey for WQAQ.
“There is music that the senior superintendent of mechanical services goes through a catalog and picks something that he thinks is reasonably recognizable,” Rubertone said.
Quinnipiac hosted the town of Hamden’s bicentennial fireworks display in 1976. For that occasion a faculty member played the Carillon manually from a keyboard in Alumni Hall. That was the only time it was played manually, and the new Carillon system does not have the ability to be played by hand, Rubertone said.
“The bell tower continues to play the music that thousands of students, parents, faculty, staff, and other friends of the university enjoy hearing each time they step foot on the quadrangle on the Mount Carmel campus,” Bushnell said. “I expect the bell tower will continue to be an integral part of the university community for many years to come.”
Photo credit: Joe Rubertone