Campus News

With Chapel Bell out of service, substitute bell to ring over UGA campus

With Chapel Bell out of service, substitute bell to ring over UGA campus

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Chapel Bell may be temporarily out of service, but the chime of a bell will still ring over campus.

A large bronze bell that has been sitting in front of Snelling Dining Hall on UGA’s South Campus has been moved to North Campus and installed on a stand beside the Chapel.

It will be rung for the university’s annual candlelight memorial service April 29 honoring students, staff and faculty who have died in the past year. And it will remain until the Chapel Bell, which is being shipped out of state for cleaning and reconditioning, returns in late summer.

The Chapel Bell and the wooden tower it hangs in are undergoing repairs and refurbishing to ensure their safety, but officials have promised they will be ready for the Georgia Bulldogs’ first home football game Aug. 30. Meanwhile, the Snelling bell will be available for commencement ceremonies, weddings and other uses, said Tom Satterly, assistant vice president for UGA’s Physical Plant.

Unlike the Chapel Bell, which is suspended 40 feet above ground in the tower and is rung by someone pulling on a rope, the Snelling bell sits on a makeshift wooden stand and is only about 40 inches off the ground. To ring it, someone must grasp the clapper and pull it against the side of the bell.

While the Snelling bell is an adequate substitute, it can’t match the Chapel Bell in size or history. The Chapel Bell, which weighs about 700 pounds, was cast in 1835. The Snelling bell, at about 400 pounds, was cast in 1915 by the McShane Bell Foundry Co. in Baltimore, MD.

It has been on a small plaza in front of Snelling Hall since 1988 or 1989, when it was moved from storage in Myers Hall, a residence hall that for many years housed freshmen and sophomore women.

It is not clear why it was at Myers. One long-time campus observer believes it may have been a dinner bell for a dining room that was in Myers, and that it was nicknamed the “Jennie Bell” in honor of Jennie Belle Myers, the building’s namesake who was for many years the dorm’s housemother.