Go in Sutton’s bell tower
I did it! (Also, can we just admire how high-quality the picture President Driscoll took on his phone is?)
I got to explore the Sutton bell tower yesterday, and it was absolutely phenomenal. I was so worried all morning, because it kept raining on and off until about 11. I spent most of the morning staring out the window in the office, waiting for the sun to come out. And come out it did!
At high noon, I left worked and walked the three minutes or so over to the President’s Office in Sutton. I met with the President, the head of university facilities, and one of the secretaries from the office who had never been up to the bell tower. We headed up the stairs, past the third floor, past the fourth floor, up to what I would basically call the mysterious fifth floor of Sutton. There was a heavy locked door that we got to pass through, and at that point it was like walking into another world.
Back in the 70’s, there was a fire in Sutton Hall. Interestingly enough, they discovered portraits of old Presidents of the university when they were sifting through the damage in the attic – which ultimately led to the creation of the University Museum, where I now work part-time! Anyway, the fire damaged a lot of the attic – and most of the damage remains. There have been some updates to keep the floor safe to walk on, but there are bits under the rafters on the sides that are still pretty charred from the fire damage. Look, it’s absolutely unreal! I almost felt like I was on a movie set.
Then up the stairs we went – they were pretty steep, almost like a ladder, but they had a handrail for the most part. Everyone said the last step was the worst, and that was true – it was a pretty big step up over the edge of the hatch to actually get in the bell tower. I should have taken a picture of that, but I was too blown away by the view to to take pictures of anything else.
The sun had come out, the sky was blue, and it basically was a perfect summer day up there. There was a breeze that came through every now and again. It was surprisingly roomy up there; I honestly thought we were all going to have to go up in pairs because I imagined it to be tiny, but it was actually easy to navigate with four people up there. The bell was humongous, like so thick around the bottom edge that I couldn’t grab the inside edge with the bottom of my hand on the outside of the bell. We had a good time reading the inscription on it, since there were a few notables who each donated $100 to purchase the bell back in 1875.
It was so neat to see everything from up above campus. I could see the power plant off in distance that marks home. I got an awesome view of the Co-Gen Plant, one of the other locations on my IUP Bucket List. You could see the student housing developments over the hill. There was a great view of downtown Indiana, with the old courthouse easy to spot.
We stayed up there for about half an hour, just admiring the view and the beautiful day. It was beyond awesome.
Getting down the steps was a little more difficult. I was kind of scared to take the first step back down, since it was so giant. But I wound up just doing it, and backtracked down the stairs. We wound up back in the creepy attic, which I have to say was almost as awesome as the view from the bell tower itself. Then we all went back down to the President’s office and parted ways as lunch was almost over.
I have to say that this was probably one of my favorite experiences that I’ve ever encountered at IUP, right up there with waving to the crowd from the Crimson Court podium at Homecoming. I’m so grateful to President Driscoll and to Mike Brown for granting us access with the magical key. Also, shout out to my mom for planting this seed in the first place. I’m so excited to have crossed one of the most intimidating things off of my IUP Bucket List so quickly!