College Hall bell no longer tolls for thee

Dear Benny,
I was looking at some old photos of College Hall on the Archives web site and saw a picture that showed two towers on the building. When were they removed? Why? Were any of the details saved or incorporated into other structures?
— Curious About College Hall

Dear Curious,
As it happens, the man in charge of the site, Archives Director Mark Frazier Lloyd, can answer your question.

He informed me that the towers were removed due to structural deterioration. The west tower, which contained the College Hall clock and bell, was the first to go, in 1914; the east tower was dismantled in 1929. None of the stonework was re-used in other buildings, but the west tower’s bell was placed in Houston Hall, where it remains to this day.

Dear Benny,
What’s the story behind the garden outside the Fine Arts Library with all the Shakespeare quotes?
— Hidden-Gem Finder

Dear Bard-baffled,
That little jewel is known as the Shakespeare Garden, and it has been around since the 1950s. University Landscape Architect Bob Lundgren explained that the garden was inspired by the Shakespeare collection that Henry Charles Lea bequeathed to the University, for which additions to the University Library were built in the 1920s and 1930s. The plants in the garden were either referenced in Shakespeare’s writings or found in the gardens of Shakespeare’s home.

Penn has been slowly restoring the garden over the last several years. The stones engraved with garden-related text from Shakespeare’s plays are part of that restoration.

Got a question for Benny? You can ask Benny about benefits, worklife issues, University history or trivia, or other matters pertaining to life at Penn. Send it via e-mail to or via regular mail to the Current, 200 Sansom Place East, 3600 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6106. A Current coffee mug goes to those whose questions we publish.

Originally published on April 1, 2004