College of LAS « Illinois

Altgeld Tower closed for repairs, carillon on autopilot

Work is extension of larger project to update Altgeld, Illini Halls

Altgeld Hall is located at the heart of the Illinois campus, near the intersection of Wright and Green Streets.
Altgeld Hall is located at the heart of the Illinois campus, near the intersection of Wright and Green Streets.
Altgeld Tower, home to the carillon bells that delight campus regulars and visitors alike, is closed for repairs for an undetermined length of time. The chimes are limited to an automated quarter-hour timekeeping function.

The work is an extension of a larger project to update Altgeld Hall, 1409 W. Green St., Urbana, and nearby Illini Hall, 725 S. Wright St., Champaign. The two buildings house the departments of mathematics and statistics; while the total budget for the work is $90 million, the cost of bringing the carillon room to safety and accessibility standards is in addition to that sum.

“The bell tower work is a small part of a great deal of necessary work to be done at Altgeld and Illini halls,” said Matthew Tomaszewski, the associate provost for capital planning. “We are still assessing the scope and cost of the proposed tower repairs.”

Altgeld Hall was built in five stages between 1897 and 1956, initially hosting the university’s administration and library, followed by library science and law. It’s been home to the mathematics department since 1956.

Illini Hall was built in 1907 as the university YMCA, and currently is shared by the departments of mathematics and statistics and the Technology Services office.

Some 18,000 students take classes at Altgeld Hall each year, with another 1,200 at Illini Hall.

The chimes inside Altgeld Tower.
The chimes inside Altgeld Tower.
“These buildings play a vital role in the university’s commitment to educating a 21st century workforce,” Tomaszewski said. “In addition to modernizing our classrooms and creating dynamic new collaboration spaces, this work furthers our commitment to making our facilities accessible to everyone.”

Dedicated in 1920, the Altgeld Tower bells are featured in special concerts throughout the school year, and live performers also take to the tower during the noon hour on weekdays and at other times when students are changing classes.

“For generations of students and faculty, the music of the Altgeld chimes has been part of the study of mathematics and statistics,” said Matt Ando, chair of the mathematics department.

Carillon music fans are invited to play the university’s virtual clavier.


Robin Kaler, Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs

Related Topics

  • Campuswide
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics