“Given…that the hours at Oglethorpe might be filled with music and harmony.”
The 42-bell carillon tower of Lupton Hall is an iconic piece of architecture, central to the university’s identity. Its striking beauty has been captured in countless photos and been the subject of tremendous adulation for almost 100 years.
The construction of Lupton Hall in 1919 included a clock tower and chimes for both aesthetic and practical applications. The four bells were a gift from Mrs. Fredrick Lesh of Newton Center, Mass., who was the sister of Mrs. Thornwell Jacobs. The largest of the original four bells (weighing 2,000 lbs.) bears the inscription: “Given by Grace Josephine Lesh, that the hours at Oglethorpe might be filled with music and harmony”. The chimes helped to guide the daily schedules of the people of Oglethorpe University and were designed to strike mechanically Westminster quarter-hour chimes and hour toll.
Additional donations brought the total number of bells to 10 as of November 1929. These 10 bells were equipped with electrical striking and a one octave console was installed allowing the playing of limited musical scores.
In January 1972, due to the deterioration of the oak timber frame supporting the bells, the frame and bells were removed as part of a renovation plan for Lupton Hall. The 10 bells were sent to Cincinnati, Ohio for sounding. In December of the same year, 25 new bells and a new steel tower were installed. Also, seven additional bells were ordered to be installed the following spring to bring the total and current count to 42.
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The carillon is now equipped with a double-banked console, allowing unlimited musical scores to be played, as well as an automatic player with chime quarter-hour Westminster, hour strike and toll, and a coded tape deck that will play pre-selected music on the bells.
In 2005, a new tradition was started at Oglethorpe: the Carillon Ceremony, where graduating seniors get the opportunity to enter a “secret door” in Lupton Hall and climb up to the Lupton Bell Tower. Facilitated by the Alumni Board, seniors may sign a historical carillon registry book and ring one of the bells by hand.
On April 8, 2013, Oglethorpe University officially dedicated the iconic bell tower of Lupton Hall as The Lale Özgörkey Bell Tower. A dedication ceremony held in front of Lupton Hall included special guest speakers Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company.
The naming is in recognition of a generous gift from the Özgörkey family, many of whom were in attendance. Cemal Özgörkey, chairman of Özgörkey Holding, was at the time a member of the Oglethorpe’s Board of Trustees. Both he and his brother, Armagan Özgörkey, vice chairman of Özgörkey Holding, are Oglethorpe alumni. The bell tower’s new name honors their mother, Lale Özgörkey.