The University of Kansas World War II Memorial Campanile and Carillon was constructed in 1950 and dedicated in 1951, the campanile has played an important role in the traditions of the University of Kansas for over fifty years.
The World War II Memorial Campanile is unquestionably the most distinguished landmark at the University of Kansas. It was constructed in 1950 to honor the 277 students and faculty who died serving their country in World War II. Their names are engraved in the Virginia Greenstone on the east and west walls of the Memorial Room at the base of the tower. The panels on the south doors of the Memorial Room evoke the emotions and tragedies of war while those on the north doors depict the history of Kansas and the ideals toward which the University and humanity continually strive.
The 120-foot Campanile, designed by Homer F. Neville and built of native Kansas Limestone, contains a 53-bell carillon cast by the John Taylor Bellfoundry, Loughborough, England, during 1950-51. It was dedicated on May 27, 1951, and rededicated on April 26, 1996, following an extensive renovation made possible by Joan and Keith Bunnel who are honorary members of The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America. The renovation was completed by the Verdin Company and Meeks & Watson.
The Largest bell of the KU World War II Memorial Carillon was dedicated to the memory of Olin Templin by the KU Endowment Association to which he served as Executive Secretary for many years. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1886 and returned in 1890 as the University's first professional philosopher, establishing what are now the departments of philosophy, sociology and psychology.
The tribute to Templin by the Endowment Association was significant for the fact that, during the latter years of Templin's long tenure at the University of Kansas, he vigorously sought to construct a carillon tower to honor the memory of the pioneering settlers of Lawrence for the devastating hardships they had endured, especially during the Civil War years. He set the site, obtained a bid for a 4-octave carillon from Gillett and Johnston, and petitioned the Federal Government for the funding he felt was owed to the citizens of Kansas for the losses they incurred during the Civil War. He worked tirelessly to publicize and achieve this dream.
Unfortunately, Templin died in 1943 before the end of World War II. His dreams and plans were resurrected by the Memorial Association Committee, established to determine, from some seventeen proposals, which was the best choice for a memorial to KU's war dead.