LSU electronic technician Dusty Magby’s routine didn’t change much when he left his job at a processing company to work for the university two years ago. He was still dealing with electronic systems and removing the hiccups.
The LSU job, though, offered an unusual perk. At least four times a year, he gets the best view on campus from the top of the Memorial Tower, a remembrance to Louisianans who died in World War I.
“You get a pretty good visual of the campus,” Magby said. “I don’t go up there every day, but we have people go up there and we adjust the speakers on special occasions. It’s pretty amazing to see the entire campus.”
Memorial Tower is one of the most iconic structures at LSU, but only a select few like Magby have access to go to the very top of the 175-foot bell tower.
Magby handles electronic systems throughout the campus, making sure devices such as fire alarms are operating at the correct times. This includes the recording system in the tower, which sends out chimes every quarter hour until 10 p.m.
Most days, Magby stays on the ground floor of the tower where the recording system is located. Maintenance is much simpler since the University installed a new chimes system in 2007.
“Our old system began to deteriorate to the point where it was unreliable,” said Samuel Territo, director of Facility Systems. “It was replaced with a modern PC platform system, which takes digital recordings and reproduces them. There’s been little to no problems since the change.”
Territo is well-acquainted with the tower and the climb to the top. He’s been working at the university since 1998, most of that time spent at LSU’s photogenic monument.
“I’d hear stories about Memorial Tower from my uncle when he was in ROTC when he would march in front of the tower,” Territo said. “The tower certainly meant a lot to people like him.”
One particular aspect of the new recording system is the type of chimes in the recording. The sound students hear is from Deagan Tower Chimes, the brand that provided the original chimes for the tower from 1926 to 1949.
The original chimes were large, electronically operated and had to be played by an individual using a type of music box that connected to it. The chimes were taken out in 1949, and their location is unknown.
When replacing the system eight years ago, Territo and others came across an old brochure for Deagan Tower Chimes and decided to use a recording of those chimes for the new system.
Territo said there are many requests for something other than the chimes to be played for special occasions or holidays. The requests are forwarded to the Chancellor-President’s Office, which makes the final decision.
One request came from LSU’s Police Department, which considered using the speaker system for public safety announcements before turning to the text/email system they use now.
Territo said PSA announcements from the bell tower would be difficult to hear in parts of the campus, so the text/email system used by campus police is a more efficient method of reaching students.
The tower has seen its share of changes and updates, and the trend may continue in 2015. Cadets of the Ole War Skule has begun fundraising to renovate the tower to house the LSU Military Museum and for an endowment for military scholarships for ROTC cadets.
Whatever changes occur, Territo is proud to take care of a landmark he grew up with.
“Without a doubt, LSU’s architecture like the tower is remarkable for almost anyone,” Territo said. “Growing up, LSU’s always been part of my life. Places like Memorial Tower stand out to me in a special way.”