We’ve talked about Williams Tower in what has become an iconic fixture in South Denver. The tower stands 215 feet tall and can be seen for miles away from the campus. Locally, the bells toll time for students and residents alike. While many people have seen the gleaming tower as they pass the University of Denver or go to sporting events, few get to experience the ‘inner-workings’ of the tower.
So, we had to take a look for ourselves.
And, as hard as it may be to believe, the inside is as spectacular as the outside.
Starting on the 4th floor west side of Ritchie Center, the inside of Williams Tower is decorated with ornate fresco murals which begin in the Gottesfeld Room. There are colorful hand laid mosaic tiles that run all the way up to the tower dome, below the carillon room. Artistic detail that few people ever get to see and appreciate.
A door adjoining the Gottesfeld room leads you up a stomach churning ninety-five step single-file twisting staircase which puts you, eventually, in the carillon room. If you don’t like heights or confined spaces, this trek is not for you.
Carol Lens, an adjunct professor from the Lamont School of Music, is the official University Carillonneur. Lens manages live music performances around noon during the school term and summer recitals 7 pm on alternate Sundays. They also perform recitals during holidays and special events.
While there are formal ‘carillon concerts’ during the year, students from the Lamont School of Music are often in the tower playing seasonal, spiritual, non-denominational and contemporary songs on the Carillon. Nothing sounds more collegiate than the sound of the bells when walking around campus.
And the biggest mystery to us – How did they ever get the carillon up there?
The attention to detail both outside and inside Williams Tower is an architectural treasure that would be nearly impossible to duplicate today, only 21 years after its construction.