After a brief hiatus, Ra Ra Brunonia is back and better than ever. This week we examine the historical roots of Carrie Tower and its relatively subtle presence on campus. Located on the corner of Waterman and Prospect, the tower, in all its glory, peers down upon the slack-liners and studiers of the Quiet Green. Unlike its counterparts on the Main Green, Carrie Tower holds a more subtle, yet deep rooted reputation on campus.
Built in 1904 as a gift from Paul Bajnotti of Turin, Italy, Carrie Tower serves as a memorial for the daughter of Nicholas Brown II, the wife of the benefactor. The tower, built by the J.W. Bishop Company of Boston, is 95 ft. tall (it’s no SciLi) and is primarily constructed of brick (it’s also no ivory tower). The top of the tower is fashioned with four copper clock faces and often adorned with an assortment of invasive plant species. The foliage was not included in any of the original blueprints. Though no one has ever been held prisoner in its highest windows, in the mid-1900s, Carrie Tower and its now defunct bells were used to signal the beginning and end of classes and victories of the Brown football team.
Despite its seemingly isolated construction, the tower isn’t the only peculiar choice for a memorial on campus… *ahem* Annmary Brown Memorial is in honor of Carrie Brown Bajnotti’s (of Carrie Tower legacy) sister. Inscribed in the foundation of Carrie Tower reads the phrase, “Love is as Strong as Death.” I don’t know, but I think Brown just scored another connection to The Hunger Games – read the book before the movie – but I digress…
As with many of the buildings on this idyllic campus, Carrie Tower does indeed hold its fair share of oddity and secrecy. In 1950, after the clocks began to run out of sync, it was discovered that the tower had been breached and left behind were eight hats belonging to members of the Corporation. Why does this stuff not happen at Brown anymore? We may not have Skull and Bones or The Sphinx, but people need to step up their shenanigans. Another little secret, Carrie serves as an access point to a set of tunnels that run between Manning and the Hay Library – the tunnel has unfortunately been sealed off. Rumor has it there were/are silent alarms lining these tunnels.
While Carrie Tower may be presently sealed off to the public, many members of the Brown community remain fixated with the landmark. Specifically, one couple asked the University if it were possible to climb the tower for their anniversary. Backstory: Not only did the couple meet at Brown and wed on campus, the husband had originally proposed to his wife on the top of the tower. Now that’s awesome. The University said no. That’s less awesome.
Carrie Tower is an unmistakable landmark on Brown’s campus. While it may not be University Hall or the behemoth that is the SciLi, it welcomes students to campus and serves as a beacon for alumni who return to College Hill. Despite its possible role as the estranged stepchild of the Main Green, Carrie Tower should be enjoyed and appreciated by all… even if you can’t get inside. Ra Ra Brunonia.