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UF keeps time with help of Century Tower’s bells

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Twice a day, the campus of the University of Florida is filled with a concert of 61 bells being played from what is arguably the most recognizable landmark of the university. Started in 1953 to mark the university’s 100th anniversary in 1953 and completed in 1956, Century Tower was included in some of the earliest campus plans.

Laura Ellis and her students provide this service to the university with much planning and preparation. Carefully selecting music to perform, Ellis and her class take great pride in creating a soundtrack for students as they make their daily commute between classes.

The bells also serve as a time keeper, striking every 15 minutes and on the hour. An electronic bell system was installed in 1956 but it stopped working in 1975. The university installed a set of 49 carillon bells in 1979 at a cost of $200,000. In 2003, the installation of an additional 12 bells was completed and a carillon studio was built in the adjacent University Auditorium, allowing Ellis and her students to practice before making the trip up the 11 flights of stairs to the carillon in Century Tower.

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