Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Historical marker describes bell tower erected in honor of George H. Denny

'Denny Chimes' historical marker in Tuscaloosa, Ala. 
This week’s featured historical marker is the “DENNY CHIMES” marker in Tuscaloosa County, Ala. This marker is located on the campus of the University of Alabama, on the south side of The Quad and just off University Boulevard between the intersections of Colonial Drive and Elm Drive, in Tuscaloosa. It’s directly across the street from the President’s Mansion.

The Alabama Historical Association erected this marker in 1986. There’s text on both sides of the marker, and both sides are different. What follows in the complete text from the marker:

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“DENNY CHIMES: This bell tower, an enduring symbol of Alabama’s first university, was erected in honor of President George H. Denny, under whose leadership (1911 to 1936), The University of Alabama gained national prominence. Conceived by Jerome M. Britchey and his classmates, this free-standing campanile carillon was built by Skinner, Maxwell and Company and dedicated May 27, 1929, with Governor Bibb Graves presiding. Converted in 1945 from a bell carillon to an electronic system and modernized in 1966, its echoes have continued to touch the hearts and memories of Alabamians from every walk of life.”

“DENNY CHIMES: Exhausted by years of service, the system was replaced in 1986 with a 25-bell bronze carillon of the highest known quality and design. The funding for the bells and the establishment of a permanent fund for continuing maintenance were made possible by the University’s alumni and special friends.
“This markers stands as a tangible expression of gratitude to all who have participated in the erection and preservation of this historical monument.”

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I encountered this marker a while back while visiting the camp to see a gymnastics meet. One thing that you’ll probably notice about the picture above is that it doesn’t actually include Denny Chimes. That’s because Denny Chimes is so large (115 feet tall) that it’s very difficult to take a nice photo of this historical marker and the chimes structure at the same time.

As mentioned, this tower was erected in honor of George Hutcheson Denny, who was born on Dec. 3, 1870 in Hanover County, Va. Those of you who have seen Denny Chimes before will know that it’s constructed mostly of brick and limestone. While the limestone came from Alabama, the bricks were made in Denny’s home state of Virginia. After retiring as Alabama’s President, Denny returned to Virginia where he passed away at the age of 84 in Lexington, Va.

Also, if you ever get the chance to visit Denny Chimes in person, be sure to check out the Walk of Fame that surrounds it. This area is where, since 1948, the school’s football captains have placed their footprints and handprints in cement. Names that you might recognize on the Walk of Fame include Lee Roy Jordan, Joe Namath, Ray Perkins, Kenny Stabler, Danny Ford, Johnny Musso, Ozzie Newsome, Cornelius Bennett, Derrick Thomas, Shaun Alexander and many, many more.

In the end, visit this site next Wednesday to learn about another historical marker. I’m also taking suggestions from the reading audience, so if you know of an interesting historical marker that you’d like me to feature, let me know in the comments section below. 

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