Bell Tower

The bell tower stands at the entrance of The Canticle. The bell was donated in 1902 by James Barry of Clinton, Iowa, in memory of his mother, Mary.


The bell was taken down when the original Corbin house was torn down to make way for the new Mount St. Clare Convent and Academy, and down it stayed until 1958.


When Dane Morgan, architect for the expansion buildings at Mount St. Clare College, suggested hanging a bell in a mission style tower above St. Francis Hall, the Sisters planned to use a bell recently donated to them by the Gannon family of Petersville, Iowa. It is reported that when an employee, Casimir (a Polish immigrant who lived at the college), was asked to bring the new bell, he asked in surprise, "Two bells, Sister?" Casimir produced the original bell, buried under accumulations of half a century in the old coal room of the powerhouse.


The history goes on to note: "The bell rang for the first time in its new location at midnight on January 1, 1960. It was the Sisters' way of saying 'Happy New Year' to the people of Clinton, and the bell's way of saying, 'I'm glad to be back!'"


A new tower was designed and created for the bell when The Canticle was built in 1997.


Sisters Joan Theiss and Teresa Kunkel traveled throughout the Midwest visiting convents, monasteries, and churches looking for a design suitable for the small space in front of the building. "We looked at a lot of towers," Sister Joan recalled, "and gathered ideas from family and friends." Sister Joan took rough sketches of a metal tower to Jim Sandry of The Schebler Company in Bettendorf, Iowa, to see if they could make such a structure. Sandry worked with the firm's architect to produce the final design.


"The tower matches as closely as possible the steel framework of the front porch of The Canticle," Sister Joan explained. "Jim [Sandry] worked with us to achieve the look and feel we wanted. The design is simple and open. The round tower reflects the rounded entryway to The Canticle, and the structure includes benches for seating."


The tower is capped with a cut out of the Tau Cross, the logo of the Sisters of St. Francis.


In December of 2003, the new tower was erected and the bell installed, which first rang out on Christmas day.