History of the Furman Bell Tower…
Furman University, the oldest private institute of higher learning in South Carolina, was founded in 1826 and named for clergyman Richard Furman. The university has landed on prestigious national lists for years. From its’ extraordinarily beautiful campus to some of the highest rated academic programs in the country, Furman is ranked one of the top universities in the nation. It’s also ranked at the top of our list of places to have a picnic.For native Greenvillians, nothing says Furman like the Bell Tower that stands in the center of the peninsula on the lake. The eighty-eight foot tall tower is an exact replica of the original one built in 1854. The first tower was built on what once was the Men’s Campus overlooking the Reedy River. Brick and mortar used in the construction were made from the red clay of the riverbank. The bells announced fires, deaths of alumni and teachers, and Civil War victories. In later years, the bells would sound when the football team won games at Sirrine Stadium.
The Bell Tower stood for the university. Pun intended.
When it was decided to move Furman campus from downtown to a new location on Poinsett Highway, officials wanted to move the Bell Tower, brick by brick. Furman engineer, Carl Clawson, carefully examined the structure. The bricks disintegrated on touch. Not wanting to lose the symbol of the university, The Alester G. Furman family donated enough money to build a new tower. Clawson measured every brick to the last inch and the original Bell Tower was recreated.
You guys know me. When I first began research for this story, I tried to find a legend, a ghost or controversy surrounding the tower. It makes for a fun read, right? Believe it or not, I came up dry. The only thing remotely close to what I wanted to find was a superstition of sorts. It is believed that if a couple kisses under the tower, they will marry. Apparently, it’s a well known “thing” across campus.
Furman University is a perfect blend of old and new. The eight hundred acre picturesque campus sits at the foot of Paris Mountain. Views from the grounds are as majestic as the ones of the grounds.