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[Photo Story] A Tour Of Old Main’s Bell Tower

Some Penn Staters gained a unique perspective of campus when Lion Ambassadors hosted tours of Old Main’s bell tower on Wednesday.

The tours, part of the university’s week-long programming for soon-to-be graduates, brought small groups of curious Penn Staters up to Old Main’s highest point. Seeking the chance to check out a once-in-a-college-career opportunity, I ventured over with Onward State visual editor Michael Tauriello to get in on the action.

With nine days to go until graduation, I somehow had never stepped foot inside Old Main until Wednesday. Of course, I was blown away by the towering frescoes and ornate architecture, including more columns than I could count. I enjoyed checking out portraits of university presidents and plenty of informational plaques before our tour began.

Perhaps the strangest part of the tour was its very start. Before climbing up to the tower, our Lion Ambassador guides gave us a chance to sign a “thank you” card for outgoing President Eric Barron before signing a “welcome” card for President-elect Neeli Bendapudi, who will take office in early May.

Naturally, Michael left his mark in true Onward State fashion.

Once our pens were capped, the tour began. We were escorted into a stairwell and tasked with climbing up a few stories to reach the bell tower. Our journey to the top became more challenging when the stairwells narrowed as Old Main showed its age.

With just enough room to squeeze through, our group ascended upward, determined to reach Old Main’s bell tower. Soon enough, we stepped back out into the frigid air and offered plenty of “oooohs” and “aaaahs” once we looked out across campus. Just look at that view!

Old Main is not the tallest structure on campus (that nod goes to Oswald Tower, pictured in the top-right corner above). Still, its bell tower offered a wildly unique view of campus that put plenty of things into perspective. Passersby looked like ants from way up high. Of course, we still saw plenty of graduating seniors snapping portraits on Old Main Lawn.

One of the most exciting parts of Wednesday’s tour was the chance to see Old Main’s clock tower up close. Students and alumni see it every day, but how often do you get the chance to walk beneath it?

Thank you, Class of 1904!
Hi, David!

Before heading back down, Michael and I stopped to appreciate the bell tower’s inner workings. Iron ladders could take you higher up into Old Main’s tower, but you’d need to be pretty brave to hold on in chilly weather like we saw on Wednesday. It was also prohibited. Alas!

All in all, Wednesday’s short and sweet tour provided great views of campus and a quick glimpse at some university history, too. Best of all, it was free.

Before you graduate, make sure you get a chance to check out Old Main’s bell tower. I’m stoked that I finally knocked this off of my bucket list, and I’m sure you will be, too.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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