Archive for Saturday, September 9, 2000

Historical note

September 9, 2000

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To the editor:

When I received my annual KU edition of the Lawrence Journal-World, I was puzzled to read in the "KU 101" section that the Campanile was built in 1946. The source listed for this information was building historian Sandra Wiechert. While plans for the memorial may have been in the making in 1946, the actual building took place in 1950-1951.

In the fall of 1950, I remember watching the ready-mix concrete trucks wind their way up Mississippi Street and around what is now Memorial Drive in preparing the base. Earlier skeptics had predicted that the soil in that area would not support a structure like the Campanile, and in a few years there would be a leaning tower of Lawrence. By the spring of 1951, the tower was ready for the bells for the carillon. When they first arrived on flat-bed trucks people would walk up for a close view before they were installed.

Being the pack-rat type that I am I still have a copy of the dedication program that took place on May 27, 1951. A crowd of some 7,000 persons attended, and the guest carillonneur opened with "America" and ended with "Crimson and The Blue."

I graduated in 1953, and when I came back for later degrees it was always a welcome sound when I heard tolling and music from the carillon.

Again, I am puzzled as to why the date 1946 was given when a plaque on the campanile reads "erected in 1950."

Max A. Thompson,

Des Moines, Iowa

Editor's note: Sandra Wiechert confirmed for the J-W that although plans for the Campanile were hatched in 1945-1946, construction actually began a few years later.

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