A Timeless Legacy

In the heart of the University of Northern Iowa's campus stands the Campanile—a symbol of history, unity, and the passage of time.

Since its inception in 1925 as a memorial from the University of Northern Iowa Alumni Association, this majestic tower has not only marked the passage of time but also woven itself into the fabric of the institution’s identity.

Just as the university has evolved over the years, so has the Campanile. An ambitious project was planned and funded to refurbish the Campanile’s existing bells and add nine new bells to create a 56-bell, five-octave instrument with a vastly expanded musical range.   

Taking on the restoration and additions to this iconic structure, The Verdin Company of Cincinnati, embraced an approach to not only revitalize the Campanile’s physical form but also ensure its lasting endurance against the harsh Iowa weather—be it the freezing winters, sweltering summers, or unpredictable storms, by choosing to hot dip galvanize.

In addition to an unforgiving climate, the list of complex challenges involved with such a refurbishment is lengthy. Bell towers such as UNI’s Campanile are architectural landmarks with historical or cultural significance. Refurbishing such structures requires meticulous attention to preserving their historical features, including architectural details, materials, and aesthetics. Hot-dip galvanizing, and its aesthetic versatility proved to be the perfect solution to safeguard the bell’s framing. The galvanized surface develops a uniform patina, which can appear similar to the color of aged concrete or certain types of stone. This patina helps the galvanized steel or iron integrate better into its surroundings, ensuring the Campanile’s golden bells remain the sole focus.

Furthermore, the complex location of the frames increases the need for longevity, as future service would be extremely difficult and costly (fortunately, the Campanile’s existing bell frame had previously been galvanized and did not need repair).

The Campanile, with its intricate architecture and deep-seated historical value, presented a unique challenge to the restoration team. Its location atop the University of Northern Iowa’s campus meant that ensuring the structure’s longevity was of utmost importance. The restoration of the Campanile at the University of Northern Iowa stands as a model of how dedication, expertise, and innovation can breathe new life into cherished landmarks. It continues to stand tall against the backdrop of changing times, the Campanile serves as a reminder that history can be both preserved and revitalized, ensuring that its melodies and stories will continue to resonate for generations to come.

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