The bell tower was dedicated Oct. 6, 1984. The tower is 138 feet tall and is located on Old Main Drive at what used to be the West Gate entrance. The tower contains Westminster chimes and 49 carillon bells. The bells, which weigh 17 tons combined, were made in a 200-year-old French foundry, according to university news service during the 25th anniversary (2008) of the tower. The bells and chimes are programmed to sound every quarter hour, then for special events to play the Spirit of Aggieland and hymns during Silver Taps. The cornerstone contains a time capsule for the class of 2076, A&M’s bicentennial. At the base of the tower the inscription reads, “I ring with pride and honor for all past, present and future students of Texas A&M University.”
The clock face’s Roman numerals for four, “IIII,” have added to Aggie lore, according toThe Battalion. Some people like to speculate that “IV” was too close to “t.u.,” what Aggies call the University of Texas. However, the IIII is typical of clock faces made in Europe.
The bell tower is named for its donors, Ford D. Albritton, Jr., class of 1943, and his wife Martha Stripling Albritton. Ford Albritton was a regent from 1968 to 1975. He served a term as the president of the Association of Former Students in 1969. (Martha's brother was Raiford L. Stripling, class of 1931. A vast collection of his papers is preserved at Cushing Library.) Along with donating the funds for the tower and bells, Ford and Martha Albritton set up a permanent endowment for maintenance.
The engraving on the largest bell (weighing 6,000 pounds) reads:
“In time these halls will become classic and the strong men of Texas... Will after we have been gathered to our fathers, meet in these halls and with grateful hearts... Chant the praises of their Alma Mater.” Governor Richard Coke / October 4, 1974 / Inauguration of the first public institution of higher learning in the state of Texas
Other bells bear inscriptions for Albritton family members:
Ford D. Albritton, Jr class of 1943: “I sing for that part of my heart which has never left these hallowed halls.”
John Stripling Albritton: “I sing in praise of the character and tradition of this school, and the impact it has had on my life.”
Sarah Stripling Morgan: “I sing in memory of her love and dedication to Texas A&M University and her inspiration which made the dream of this carillon a reality”
Ford D. Albritton, III class of 1969; Catherine Gibbs Albritton; Ford D. Albritton, IV; Daniel Patrick Albritton: “I ring with joy for the friendships that are born and nurtured on this campus ... They are the foundation for the spirit of Aggieland.”
Frank Griffin Albritton, class of 1945: “I sing for an Aggie who will never hear my song ... One who gave his life for his country.” (Frank was Ford Albritton Jr’s brother. He was killed in World War II, according to a March 1994 Eagle article.)
“I join with the Twelfth Man spirit in singing of my love, praise and support of Texas A&M University,” is inscribed on Bell 8, according to a September 1984 Eagle article.