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Belltower Feeling Its Age

It’s true that the Belltower can take quite a licking and still stand proud. The old gray lady even shrugged off a direct lightning strike two years ago without blinking. But time waits for no tower, even one made of granite. And just like a senior citizen with stiff knees, the stalwart structure is starting to feel it in her joints.

But don’t worry. Work crews got busy this week, methodically resealing the masonry joints throughout the lower 18 feet of the tower.

“There’s been slow seepage of water through the joints over the years,” says Andy Snead, the university’s director of design and construction services. “Water has gotten in, especially in the shrine room, causing the place to kind of fall apart.”

A Legend in Stone

The shrine room, home to some university memorabilia, is on the ground floor of the 115-foot monument, which was built between 1924 and 1937 to honor 33 NC State alumni killed in World War I. Called “a legend in stone,” the tower contains 1,400 tons of stone set on a 700-ton concrete base.

Workers will take a break and remove scaffolding the week before graduation so graduates can pose for pictures in front of the iconic tower. Work will resume the morning of May 16 and should be completed in June.

More Work Needed

The $13,000 repair budget will cover the most pressing needs in the most sensitive areas of the building. It would cost upwards of $1 million to pay for all the maintenance and repair work required, Snead says, including repairs to the courtyard area at the base, cosmetic work on the shrine room, installation of windows at the top of the tower and a complete resealing of all masonry joints.