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Built in 1856, the tower stands 105 feet tall and is the largest surviving antebellum water tower built for private use in the United States. The tower is based on the Lighthouse at Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. An ornate cast-iron staircase inside has a balustrade identical to the one in the Green-Meldrum House in Savannah, GA. Adolphus Heiman, a Prussian-born architect and engineer, designed the tower. In 1849, he designed the Tennessee Insane Asylum, an early example of a building with running water and a central heating and cooling system; and in 1850 he designed the first suspension bridge in the South. During the Battle of Nashville in 1864, Federal forces used the structure as a signal tower. In 1928, the tower began its current use as a bell tower when a 23-bell carillon was installed, making it the first carillon in Tennessee. This carillon was sold in 1951, and in 1986 a second carillon of 23 bells was installed. In 2002 the carillon was completed with 42 bells.
Belmont-Hillsboro Historic District [including Belmont University]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1980.
Harper, Herbert L. Belmont [Belmont University]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1971.
Kennedy, Roger G. Architecture, Men, Women and Money: 1600-1860. New York: Random House, 1985, 313-18, 329, 347-473.