Before Beaumont Tower, what stood on campus in the “Sacred Space” was College Hall, the first building built on campus. College Hall was home to the university's first classroom, where students of Michigan Agricultural College attended classes on the science of agriculture. Despite its significance to the university, the building was poorly constructed, with hollow walls made of soft bricks and a tree stump holding up one of its corners. On August 12, 1918, two of the walls of College Hall collapsed; the rest of the building was demolished shortly after.
After College Hall's demolition, plans to add a new building to the space were disrupted by World War I, which saw an artillery shed assembled to supplement the military presence on campus. Upset by the idea that a historic spot on campus was being used for a rather utilitarian purpose, alumnus John Beaumont set forth with a plan to preserve the “Sacred Space” on campus, creating a memorial tower and keeping the space around it clear of new buildings.
The cornerstone of Beaumont Tower was laid was on October 23, 1928. Beaumont included in the cornerstone several items to commemorate his graduation year, including an 1882 College Annual and commencement program.
Beaumont Tower mid-construction, 1928.
Beaumont Tower in 1929, nearing completion. The tower was completed and dedicated on June 22, 1929.
Students stroll near Beaumont Tower, 1950. The sculpture on the face of the tower serves as a memorial to the classes taught in College Hall, depicting a sower alongside an inscription that reads “Whatsoever a Man Soweth.”
Director of Music Wendell Wescott inspects a bell to be installed in the tower, 1959. Beaumont Tower was initially built with 10 bells, which limited the amount of music that could be played. When it was discovered soon after dedication that there weren't enough bells to play the alma mater, more were quickly installed. Under Wescott's direction, the number of bells increased to 47, creating the ability to do four full octaves and a wide range of music. Today, the carillonneurs of Beaumont Tower play the bells for special performances, and the tower is automated to play MSU Shadows every day.
Beaumont Tower amongst autumn colors, 2007. Photo by Derrick L. Turner.
Beaumont Tower, winter 2021. Through a particularly quiet year, the chimes of Beaumont Tower served as an enduring reminder that we would soon be together on campus again. Photo by Derrick L. Turner.
While John Beaumont preserved memories of his graduation in the cornerstone of Beaumont Tower, for many graduates, including those celebrating in 2021, a photo with Beaumont Tower in the background is just as treasured. Photo by Derrick L. Turner.
Even through difficult times, Beaumont Tower stands tall as a beacon of hope and symbol of the care we feel towards our fellow Spartans. Photo by Nick Schrader.
After 94 iconic years on campus, the sound of Beaumont Tower's bells connects generations of Spartans. Photo by Nick Schrader.