The Altgeld Bell Tower is open for tours daily when school is in session from 12:30-1 PM. Tours are led by Chimemaster Sue Wood herself.
Sue Wood is a renowned virtuoso carillon player who sits beneath tons of bells (the largest is five feet in diameter) and, by manipulating levers, makes them sing. There is no F or D# and only 1.5 octaves, so, in addition to performing, she often must arrange and transpose music to an appropriate key. When she pushes a lever, a sixty-plus foot cable stretching up through the ceiling to the ancient pulleys far above moves a clapper to strike one of those magnificent bells, cast in Baltimore nearly a century ago. It’s an amazing experience to watch Wood work, manipulating that unwieldy chime at lightning speed.
You can also climb a six-story ladder a hundred feet above the quad—a dazzlingly frightening experience—and sit behind those fifteen bells (7.5 tons of music!), swamped in their deafening overtones, as they sing their song
To get the tour go to room 323 (third floor, east side of the building) just before 12:30. It is encouraged to arrive early and reservations must be made during Mom's Weekend, when additional tours are offered. Tours are capped at 25 and are busier during the end of the school year.
323 Altgeld Hall
1409 West Green Street
Urbana, IL 61801