Kilgo Quad's Bell

Writer: 
October 1, 2006
Kilgo Quad tower

Duke University Archives

Kilgo Quad tower now has a bell, but early photographs show an empty belfry, indicating that the bell was not installed during the construction of the West Campus.

According to the records of the Red Friars, a men's honorary secret society that disbanded in 1971, the bell belonged to the society. Furman G. McLarty '27, a member of the Red Friars, purchased the bell from an antiques dealer in Oxford, England, during his time there as a Rhodes Scholar in 1929. The bell is thought to have been part of a set of bells at Cherley Myncherry, the Benedictine Priory of Littlemore in Oxfordshire.

The bell was shipped to Durham, but remained in storage until 1950 when the Friars undertook "to get the bell hung in the belfry of Kilgo Court." According to the Friars' minutes, the bell was "installed atop the tower in house J with an electric ringing device." The installation took place sometime between October 1 and November 5, 1950. Evidently the bell has been rung by hand at least once since the Friars disbanded, and a rope remains attached to its clapper, but the electric ringing device is long gone.