Colorado State University
A bell returned to Colorado State University after nearly 100 years will hang in a new alumni center on campus.

Pilfered bell returns to Colorado State campus after nearly 100 years

April 24, 2017
The bell, stolen from a university building in 1919, will have a new home in the university's new alumni center.

Almost 100 years after a bell that hung at Colorado State University was stolen, the nearly 500-pound artifact is back on the Fort Collins campus and will soon ring out from a tower in the new Alumni Center.

The Denver Post reports that the bell was returned in 2016 after Kristi Bohlender, the executive director of the university's Alumni Association received a call from a lawyer who asked what the university would do with the bell if it were returned. A few days later, the bell was left in the driveway at Bohlender's home.

Colorado State acquired the bell, which was manufactured in 1894, sometime around 1910, and hung it in the tower of Old Main. The chiming of the bell announced the start of classes, and beginning around 1915, was rung after every football victory. After the clapper was stolen, students continued to ring the bell by pounding it with sledge hammers.

In 1919, a group of at least four students stole the bell, took it to a nearby farm owned by one of the thieves and buried it. When the farm was put up for sale, they unearthed the bell and moved it to an off-campus fraternity house where it was kept for many years.

Around the time Colorado State announced plans to build the Iris & Michael Smith Alumni Center, the fraternity decided to return the bell.

Since its return, the bell has been repaired and polished, and the yoke replaced. A German company cast a new clapper.

The bell's original home, Old Main, burned down in 1970, so university officials arranged for a new home. It will be hung in a tower at the entrance of the new Alumni Center, which is on the northeast corner of the new on-campus football stadium.

Students will be allowed to use the bell, which will be rung electronically, starting next year.

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