Blanchard Bell

The Tower Bell was bought and placed in the Tower of Blanchard Hall (then Main Building) in 1872 to go along with the new additions that were being made at the same time. The bell, made that same year by the Meneely Bell Foundry in Troy, New York, replaced the cracked bell that had been hanging in the Main Building. The money to pay for the bell totaled $500 and was raised by students with the idea that “the new building was entitled to a new bell.” Inscribed on the side of the Tower Bell is Wheaton’s motto in Latin: Christo et Regno Ejus. During the lifetime of the bell it has seen many uses and varying opinions as to its use. Originally the bell served to wake people in the morning, alert them of meals, call the students to chapel, and mark every class during the day. The bell was also tolled for Sunday church services and funerals as well as being used to alert students and townspeople of fires. The use of the bell later changed in the words of President Edman from “the academic to the more interesting” as by the 1930’s the bell was being rung for victories by the Crusaders as well as by the newly engaged. The beginnings of the going “up the tower” tradition is unknown, yet it still holds today with a newly engaged couple ringing the bell for three sets of seven, and a newly wed couple ring seven sets of three.

In 1943, Christian Council president, Billy Graham, promoted the ringing of the bell at 5 pm to remind college and townspeople to pray for servicemen. He said, "Previously, the only way of remembering them was by scattered efforts in various different groups as individual prayer requests came in. Now a regular remembrance of intercession for them is encouraged by this daily angelus" (Wheaton Alumni News, May-June 1943, p. 2).