Wanted: New look for UC

1898-99: An international design competition is held for a new look for the growing, but architecturally undistinguished, University of California. The UC regents request a new “City of Learning” in Berkeley with a physical presence that will have “an effect unique in the world.” Bernard Maybeck, UC’s first architecture instructor, proposes the event, which philanthropist [...]

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John Galen Howard steps in

Circa 1903: Newly hired University Supervising Architect John Galen Howard begins designing a bell tower as part of new architectural plan for the university. The plan reflects Emile Bénard’s basic ideas, but is largely Howard’s own. After winning first prize, Bénard had visited Berkeley in 1900, but balked at a request to adjust his design [...]

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The woman behind the Campanile

Early 1911: Jane Sather provides funding for the tower and bells and formally requests that work proceed on the Jane K. Sather Campanile. She provides $225,000 for the project, including a set of bells. Sather, who also gave generously to academic endowments and funded Sather Gate, a memorial to her husband, Peder, dies in December [...]

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Athens of the West

Summer 1913: Construction on the tower begins. With Doe Library, the Hearst Memorial Mining Building and several other structures finished, Howard is beginning to largely erase the 19th century campus of brick and wood Victorian buildings and replace it with a grand California synthesis of the Mediterranean world and classical design – a new “Athens [...]

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Unlikely inhabitants

1913: While still under construction, the Campanile becomes storage space for a massive amount of fossils collected by UC-led excavations at the Rancho La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles. By 1913, 20 tons of paleontological material – including the remains of saber-toothed cats, horses, camels, ground sloths and many birds – had been brought [...]

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Sky-high feast

Jan. 31, 1914: The steel frame’s completion is celebrated with a sky-high feast on the future observation deck, some 200 feet in the air. According to campus lore, UC President Benjamin Ide Wheeler and 40 to 50 guests of honor — primarily construction workers, architects and engineers — climbed ladders to the deck, but after [...]

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The first stone

March 18, 1914: The tower’s cornerstone is laid in a student-led ceremony. By late spring, the unfinished Campanile already has become a stop on the seniors’ annual pilgrimage – an organized walk during graduation week from one beloved building to the next. By mid-August, the Oakland Tribune reports that students back from summer break are [...]

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Jane’s 12 bells

1914-1915: Twelve bells are cast for the tower by John Taylor & Co., a foundry in England. By the end of 1915, the “Sather Bells,” paid for by Jane Sather’s gift and each inscribed with “Gift of Jane K. Sather,” are cast. One of the bells bears the university seal and the motto “Let there [...]

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A tower is born

Late 1915: Construction of the tower is complete. On Dec. 1, the Campanile’s four clocks, made in Springfield, Mass., by the Standard Electric Time Co., operate for the first time. The clock installation is considered one of the nation’s largest. The Daily Cal reports that “students will have no excuse for lateness to class now.” [...]

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Ten cents a ride

March 24, 1916: The tower opens to visitors for the first time. An elevator ride to the observation deck – a rare thing for bell towers of this era – costs 10 cents, and the price lasts for 65 years. An exception occurs in August 1944, during World War II, when visitors are charged 25 [...]

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