The Story of an Old Ringtone

How the campus tradition in Gunter tower was revived $1 at a time

Download the ringtone of the chimes.

Story by Mary Sasaki, photography by Barry Guiterrez



Marking Time
Going on 25 years, the bells have been an everyday presence at UNC. Here’s a look at events that led up to today’s current system:

1928: Gunter Hall is dedicated

1952: Associated Students of Colorado State College of Education donates first electronic set of Deagan-Ciesta Chimes purchased for $4,150 from the Charles Wells Music Company to “add to the tradition surrounding the school,” according an article in the May 23,1952, edition of The Mirror. The automated chimes sound the Westminster sequence 7:15 a.m.–10:30 p.m. daily. The 272-pound unit also allows the chimes to be played manually by keyboard. Media reports from the era mention Christmas music played during the last week of classes before winter break.

1964: Senior class donates new system for about $3,300 to replace the chimes that fell into disrepair.

1985: Bells fall silent when that system becomes inoperable.

1987: “Bucks for Bells” raises $6,000, $1 at a time, to restore the bells with the present-day system. They ring for the first time following a campus ceremony at noon, Oct. 17. A Greeley Tribune editorial Aug. 27 praised the effort: “It not only returned a traditional part of campus life to the university, it also helped involve the community in a worthwhile UNC project.”


Around the State
Besides UNC, only one set of working chimes turned up among Colorado’s research and four-year public colleges and universities.

University of Colorado at Boulder: In Macky Auditorium, a “74-bell symphonic carillon with a digital player/recorder and digital chronobell” plays on the hour, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, and live for special events, such as holiday music festivals and commencement, says Angela Venturo, Macky Auditorium assistant director.

Adams State College: The college has a carillon, but it is silent. The Adams State Leon Memorial Concert Hall chimes are enclosed in a 65-foot high carillon outside the Leon Memorial Concert Hall, completed in 1960 through a nearly $250,000 gift from Ella Leon Grove and Rose Leon, two local dressmakers, according to Linda Relyea, Adams State assistant director of communications. “Although the chimes currently do not work,” Relyea says, “Adams State College plans on restoring the chimes when funding becomes available for the project. The current technology is outdated and needs replacing.”

Others: Colorado State University, Metro State College and Western State Collegedo not have campus chimes, according to college spokespersons. “We did have a ‘victory bell’ on campus at one point, but that has since disappeared,” says Tracey Koehler, Western State director of public relations and communications.