|Ezekiel Robinson with the campus bell, 1910|
When the Brick Dormitory caught fire in the middle of the night in 1904, the bell rang to wake sleeping students and get them to safety. Josephine Scott, a student from Alamance County, ran to ring the bell and hasten the evacuation. After ringing the bell a few times, the rope used broke. According to a classmates' recollection, Scott then climbed the wooden frame of the bell tower to ring the bell with her hands until all of the students had safely left the building.
After the destruction of Brick Dormitory and the construction of Spencer, the bell was moved to a site closer to the new residence hall (across College Avenue from where Jackson Library sits today). When electric bells were installed in the campus buildings, the use of the bell on a daily basis was discontinued. But students still used it as a meeting place for groups and celebrations. On student government election nights, the winning group would meet at the bell to begin their festivities.
Then, on a Saturday night in January 1938, the bell was taken down and tucked away in a storage room on campus. There it sat until members of the Class of 1923 decided it needed a more prominent location and a more prominent role in ongoing campus life and traditions.
|The bell hanging in Students Anniversary Plaza, 1968|
In 1967, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the university's opening, the student body of 1967 donated $15,000 to build Students’ Anniversary Plaza at the corner of Spring Garden and College Avenue (the site of founding president Charles Duncan McIver's home). A brick "modernistic arch" was designed by Charles Bell, superintendent of ground at UNCG. The bell was bronzed and mounted under the arch in 1968.
The bell remained in that location until 1987 when it was removed for restoration. It is currently stored in the Alumni House, but the bell is brought out for every commencement. At the end of the ceremony, the bell is rung to honor the new graduates. As it first rang to welcome students to the new State Normal and Industrial School, it now rings to honor our newest alumni.