Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Watkins Bell Tower

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Institution Name: Hampden-Sydney College
Original/Historic Place Name: Watkins Bell Tower
Location on Campus: College Rd.
Date(s) of Construction:
1934original construction Welson, Courtenay S.
Designer: Courtenay S. Welton
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, history, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: brick
Walls: brick
Roof: slate
ca. 1934-present (2006)memorial site
ca. 1934-present (2006)bell tower

The Watkins Bell Tower was built to mark the geographical center of campus, halfway along the center axis of Cushing and Venable Halls. The structure is unchanged, although the surrounding landscape has: once encircled by bushes, the tower now sits in a concrete plaza.

The bell tower was named for Asa D. Watkins, beloved professor of English. It includes bricks from the homes of the Founders and early Trustees of the college. The bell is still rung to signal the change of classes each day. It was designed by Courtenay S. Welton, Class of 1919, who designed several other buildings here. He was the first alumnus to become an architect since R. L. Dabney, Class of 1858.


Brinkley, John L. On This Hill: A Narrative History of Hampden-Sydney College. Hampden-Sydney, VA: Hampden-Sydney College, 1994.

Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission. Hampden-Sydney College Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1970.


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Last update: November 2006