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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 22, 2003

UI Rings In Fall Semester Aug. 25 With New Old Capitol Bell

If University of Iowa students hear an unaccustomed ringing in their ears as they begin fall semester classes on Monday, Aug. 25, it will likely be cause for celebration, rather than a sign of health problems.

That's because the traditional ringing of the bell in the university's landmark Old Capitol building is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m., following a 20-month absence due to a $5.6 million fire on Nov. 20, 2001. Throughout each class day, the new bell will ring 16 times at 20 minutes after the hour to mark the change of classes and then another 16 times at 30 minutes after the hour to mark the start of classes. The final ringing of the day will be at 5:30 p.m.

The new bell, a 1,770-pound replacement for the 1,100-pound bell ruined in the fire, was lifted atop the Old Capitol along with the second level of timber framing on Dec. 30, 2002.

For more than 150 years, the old bell tolled the beginning and end of classes with 16 strikes some 20 times each day. The new bell is a "sister" to the old bell and was cast sometime between 1860 and 1890 at the same West Troy, N.Y. foundry that produced the old bell in 1864. The replacement has been fitted with an automatic ringing system, as well as cleaned, polished and inscribed by the Verdin Co. of Cincinnati, at a cost of about $18,000.

Gary Nagle, UI Facilities Services Group project manager, says that the resumption of the Old Capitol bell ringing is an important Iowa tradition, but it isn't the last step in the Old Capitol restoration project. Although the dome, cupola and bell tower have been rebuilt, the roof currently is in the process of being replaced. Later work will include reconstruction of fire-damaged interior areas and the upgrade of building infrastructure, including fire alarms and sprinklers, electrical and lighting systems, and the elevator.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, Writer, 319-384-0009,