This story is part of a series highlighting the restoration and completion of the Memorial Belltower. Click the link to learn more about the history of NC State’s Legend in Stone.
On May 14, NC State celebrated an event one century in the making. The Memorial Belltower at Henry Square was officially reopened and dedicated, signaling the end of some 100 years of construction and, recently, renovation.
Later that evening, the Belltower was lit red for the first time since work began some 600 days before — just in time for NC State’s new alumni to return from their graduation ceremony at Carter-Finley Stadium for some spectacular photo opportunities.
Driven by a transformational gift from the Bill (’81) and Frances Henry family, the Memorial Belltower now has 55 real bells, a clean exterior, a completely restored Shrine Room and more.
Below are some of the many special moments that took place during the ceremony. Flip through the gallery, then
watch the footage of this extraordinary moment in NC State’s history. The event program is also available for download.
An audience gathers — in adherence to physical-distancing and community guidelines — to witness the reopening of the Memorial Belltower and dedication of Henry Square. Members of the NC State Army ROTC present the nation’s colors during the opening ceremony. Areon Mobasher ’18 sings the National Anthem to open the ceremony. Henry Square is named for the family of Bill and Frances Henry, both of whom gave generously to the Belltower’s restoration project. Chancellor Randy Woodson tells the story of the Memorial Belltower’s extraordinary construction, dedication, restoration and rededication. Visitors to the Memorial Belltower can now see real bells in the tower’s belfry. Chancellor Randy Woodson and the Henry family cut the ribbon dedicating the Henry Square and reopening the Memorial Belltower. Commander Michelle Parkington ’22 recounts the ”memorial“ aspects of the Memorial Belltower’s history. The three student speakers read the names of the men memorialized at the Belltower, as a bell tolled for each. The Henry family poses for a photo on a balcony at the Aloft Hotel across Hillsborough Street from the Belltower. Carmen Bollman ’21, a Goodnight Scholar and graduate of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, tells the audience what the Belltower has meant to her during her time at NC State. Bill Henry reads the plaque commemorating the NC State alumni who died while serving in the U.S. military during World War I. Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin discusses how the Memorial Belltower has been a beacon for many over the last century. Michael Gardo ’22 talks about the 55 new bells that make up the Memorial Belltower’s carillon. A reception was held for the reopening and dedication attendees immediately following the ceremony. The carillon’s inaugural performance took place concurrently. Graduating students continued the tradition of photos at the Belltower throughout the afternoon. The Belltower’s service as a military memorial was honored by the presentation of the nation’s colors by members of the NC State Army ROTC. Look for the Belltower to be lit red more and more now that it has been reopened, restored and equipped with new lighting and torchieres. Students can once again take turns celebrating graduation and the start of their new lives as NC State alumni with photo sessions at the Belltower. May 14 was a beautiful day at the Belltower. Several former student carillonneurs, who played the old electronic instrument hooked to belfry speakers, attended the ceremony. One of the most exciting parts of the spring 2021 graduation celebration was being able to light the Belltower red again for the newly minted alumni. The reopening and dedication ceremony was only the latest part of the Belltower’s illustrious history. After some 600 days of construction, the Belltower is now restored, reopened and ready to be lit red for many future graduation ceremonies. Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5