Throwback Thursday – Guthrie Bell Tower and Plaza
As an Independence Day celebration this week, Throwback Thursday is on the main campus of Western Kentucky University at the Guthrie Bell Tower and Plaza. Much more than a chiming clock, this plaza is dedicated to the men and women of our armed forced who served to protect and ensure American freedom.
Built in 2002, the tower’s namesake was Sergeant First Class Robert Guthrie, who gave his life in the Korean War. The tower and plaza were gifts to the university from the Guthrie family and Trace Die Cast. Standing at just over 120 feet tall, the tower is 12 stories with a cupola matching Cherry Hall’s on top.
Veterans who attended WKU are etched into the granite drawings circling the tower, along with the Robert Guthrie statue at its base. Some of the veterans featured are Bob Ward, a WKU retired professor who served in Korea; Bob Kirby, who also served in Korea; WKU past president Dero Downing during his World War II service; and Wendell Strode’s Vietnam War days.
The tower’s bells weigh 25 thousand pounds. Purchased from the Van Bergen Company in Charleston, the largest bell is 59 inches in diameter and weighs over 4600 pounds alone. Eighteen years ago, the bells were cast at the Paccard Bell Foundry in France, a company that’s been building bells for over 300 years.
The granite benches surrounding the tower in the Guthrie Plaza are also etched with quotes from American historical figures. Thank you to the men and women of our armed forces past and present for your dedicated service and preserving our freedom.