AKA: University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Campanile, Berkeley, CA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Howard, John Galen, Architect (firm); John Galen Howard (architect)

Dates: constructed 1913-1914

10 stories

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Campanile Way and South Hall Road
University of California, Berkeley, Campus, Berkeley, CA 94720

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No major university could be complete in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries without a bell tower to serenade students and local town inhabitants. Through a generous bequest by a loyal benefactor, Jane Krom Sather, the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), erected this 303-foot carillon tower, an esplanade and a grand, ceremonial entry gate during the 1900s and 1910s.

Building History

The will of Jane Krom Sather (1824-1911), widow of the Norwegian-born banker Peder Sather (1810-1886), left about $500,000 to the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), of which $200,000 was to be expended on a bell tower for the center of the campus. This tower was to rise 300 feet and to be faced in granite. She also directed that an additional $23,000 be spent for a full carillon to equip the tower. Her will directed that the approximately $277,000 remaining from the gift be distributed to fund chairs in classics and history. Jane Sather stipulated that the tower was to be called the "Jane K. Sather Campanile;" Writer Steven Finacom has indicated that Sather described memories of carillons she heard when she was younger living in New York, NY. He wrote: "Inspiration, Sather wrote in 1910, came from her earlier years living in New York, when “I used to stand on Broadway at the head of Wall Street and listen to the chimes of Old Trinity [church] as tunes were rung out on them.” (See Steven Finacom, "Remembering Jane Sather, the woman behind the Campanile" Berkeley News, written 12/09/2011, accessed 07/14/2017.)

Campus architect John Galen Howard (1864-1931) had created a design for a UCB belltower in 1903, one based on the Campanile of the San Marco in Venice, a favorite of architects at this time. The Architect and Engineer of California said of the campanile in 1913: "With an acrobatic mechanic clinging to its top, the first nine-ton steel column for the new $200,000 Sather Campanile has been swung into place, and the University of California's great bell-tower has started its 300-foot climb toward the sky. It will be completed by 1915. Slender and lofty, its gleaming walls all of white granite and marble, the Sather Campanile will be a splendid landmark, visible from ocean vessels as they enter the Golden Gate and from all the cities clustering around San Francisco Bay. Of noble grace, dignity and beauty, precious in material, in mass and height comparable with such structures as the Campanile of venice, Giotto's tower in Florence, and the Giralda of Seville, and itself a keynote for the surrounding landscape and architectural glories of the Berkeley campus, as developing under the great Hearst plan, the Sather Campanile is destined to become one of the world's most famous towers." (See "Lofty Bell Tower Begun," Architect and Engineer of California, vol. XXXV, no. 2, 12/1913, p. 121.) The tower rose 303 feet high and was located on ground 250 feet above sea level, meaning it stood about 550 feet above ships passing through the Golden Gate.

Howard collaborated with the Dean of the UCB College of Engineering, Charles Derleth, Jr., on the design of the tower. In 1913, Derleth delivered a talk, "Sather Tower at the University of California," before the 57th meeting of the San Francisco Association of Members of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 11/1914. The Engineering News reported a summary of the talk in its issue of 12/24/1914: "The speaker exhibited stereopticon views of various campaniles and other slender towers of Europe and America, commenting on their individual characteristics. He followed with plans and erection views of the Sather Tower, and a general discussion of the problem of providing for stresses due to the vibration arising from earthquake shocks. The tower is a steel-frame structure, fireproofed with concrete and faced with granite, 303 ft. aove ground and 28 ft. below, with a base 33 ft. in. square, tapering to 30 ft. 6 in. square at a height of 189 ft. 6 in. above the ground. This section continues to an elevation of 224 ft. 2 in. above ground, where the crowning pyramid begins. There are 10 floors above the ground, designed for a live load of 60 lb. per sq. ft., with stairways throughout and elevator to [the] seventh floor. The frame is carried on 16 columns anchored to a grillage foundation, which is supported on a reinforced-concrete foundation slab 48 ft. square and 45 in. thick. Only the four corner columns are carried above the eighth floor to the tenth floor, where trusses carry the pyramidal structure above. Diagonal and cross-bracing is provided in alternate vertical bents only, beginning with the foundation bent below ground; the purpose being to provide requisite flexibility against earthquake shock through the unbraced panels. Wind pressure was assumed at 20 lb. per sq. ft." (See "Engineering Societies," Engineering News, vol. 72, no. 26, 12/24/1914, p. 1280.)

Building Notes

The Campanile on the Berkeley Campus, patterned on the tower in the Piazza of San Marco, Venice, Italy, Sather Tower stands 307-feet tall; at the 200-foot mark, architect John Galen Howard included an observation deck with sweeping views of the Bay Area. In the wake of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, Howard specified that the tower have a steel frame to withstand strong tremors.

The University of California Chronicle stated of the carillon bells, installed in 1917: "The twelve Sather Bells, the gift to the University of Mrs. Jane K. Sather, after running the gauntlet of the German submarines, reached the campus at Berkeley on Friday, October 12, and were installed in the 300-foot Sather Tower, itself the gift of Mrs. Sather. The bells were hung under the direction of W.H. Billinghurst, who was sent from England by the bell-founders, John Taylor and Sons of Loughbrough, England, to supervise the work of installation. The chimes were first played Saturday, November 2, on the occasion of the 'Big Game,' when the Varsity eleven defeated the University of Washington team, with a score of 27 to 0." (See "Installation of the Sather Bells," University of California Chronicle, vol. 20, 1918, p. 131.)

PCAD id: 1687