The Furman Bell Tower

By Catherine Hayward

Just under Paris Mountain in Greenville, South Carolina sits Furman University’s most well known outdoor destination, the Bell Tower. The tower sits in the center of Furman University’s campus adjacent to the Swan Lake. Over the years the tower has become a symbolic image for the campus. Any piece of mail that prospective students, current students, or alumni receive from Furman are adorned with images of this iconic structure.

The tower was originally built in 1854 and had a very different purpose then than it does today. Presently, the bell rings hourly and plays a chorus of songs at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. as students and visitors travel the campus. Formally, the ringing bell was used to announce the beginning and end of classes and celebrate athletic victories. When classes were canceled during the Civil War, the bell chimed for Confederate victories. The image above shows the tower’s original structure, which fell during a winter fire in 1964. By May 1965 a brand new tower was built. Greenville News explains how the Alester Furman family granted enough money for the tower to be rebuilt on the Furman Lake precisely the same as the old structure.

The location of the bell tower has also changed over the years since it was built, partly because of Furman’s campus changing locations. The university was founded in 1826 which marks it as the oldest private college in South Carolina. The original location of campus was in Edgefield, South Carolina, but over the next decades the campus had three locations before settling in Greenville in 1851. Even though the bell tower has been remodeled, renovated, and changed location, the symbolism it holds has stayed true throughout the years.

Many individuals assume that exploring the outdoors means interacting with trees, paths, or grasslands. While this is true, there are also outdoor structures that are important and noteworthy to explore. Many different angles of campus hold the beauty of the Tower. The Furman bell tower is an outdoor location that hold a wealth of beauty while encouraging individuals to explore the outdoor beauty of Furman’s campus.

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