Chime expected to sound again in 2022

University plans new tower for Manchester icon in the heart of campus

bell-coming-outThe iconic Manchester Chime, quiet since the Administration Building closed in 2019, will sound again next fall if things go according to plan.

The Verdin Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, removed the 10 bells from the tower in early August and will refurbish them. Verdin also will create four additional bells and build a new tower structure – hopefully in time for Homecoming 2022 and the 100th anniversary of the original Chime at Manchester, according to Melanie Harmon, vice president for advancement.

The new tower likely will be in the center of the mall, making the Chime a visual campus centerpiece, allowing for optimal acoustics, and making maintenance easier.

Manchester’s is one of about 700 chimes nationwide, with an additional 500 or so around the world, according to Lila Hammer ’79, retired registrar at Manchester and a Chime player since her student days.

“The Chime was an integral part in the life of Manchester for 97 years,” Hammer told a virtual gathering of alumni this summer. “I hope the tradition can be revived.”

For nearly a century, the Chime was Manchester’s morning call to start a new day and an evening balm that cast a soothing spell on the neighborhoods surrounding campus. It rousted students to 8 a.m. classes, charmed first-time visitors and prospective students, and delighted nostalgic alumni.

The Chime was played at Commencement, and for weddings, memorial services, and special gatherings such as Alumni Days. Hammer says she joined other Chime players across the country to mourn the events of Sept. 11, 2011 and, more recently, played the Chime to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to Manchester in 1968.

A new Chime tower was one of the initiatives of the Students First! comprehensive campaign, which concluded on June 30, 2014. The campaign raised about $500,000 for the new tower, which Harmon estimated will cost around $600,000. People wishing to help support that project still can, she said.

Alumni and friends raised $8,700 to purchase the original Chime, created by the McShane Bell Foundry, in Baltimore, Md. On Aug. 11, 1922, hundreds of people came to campus to hoist the bells up to the tower by ropes and pulleys.

Before the bells were removed from the Chime tower, Hammer treated the North Manchester campus neighborhood to a 45-minute concert of some perennial favorites. Faculty, staff and some local alumni gathered outside to hear Hail to Thee (MU fight song), By the Kenapocomoco (alma mater), Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Angels We Have Heard on High, Jingle Bells, We Shall Overcome, Let There Be Peace on Earth, and many more songs. 

No longer will Manchester’s Chime players – mostly students – traipse up Administration Building staircases in the dead of winter to push hand levers in a room directly below the bells, which range in weight from 550 to 2,650 pounds. The levers were attached to wooden rods that reached up through the ceiling and attached to chains and leather straps on the clappers. Pushing down on the levers pulled the clappers against the bells.

Instead, the new Chime will feature an electronic keyboard, which will be played from the comfort of inside Winger Hall. It also will have a practice mode, so that chimers inside Winger can hear their music on speakers without the Chime playing outside. Manchester also will be able to pre-record Chime music and play it any time, said Harmon.

The new Chime tower is likely to inspire some new Manchester traditions, added Harmon.

“The Manchester Chime is steeped in treasured history,” she added. “The sound is like comfort food for alumni, playing in their memories for years after they graduate. The new Chime tower promises to have a similar impact on future generations of Manchester students.”

If you would like to make a gift to the Chime tower project, please contact Harmon at or 260-982-5211.