From Russia With Bell

Current Lowell residents would do well to look to their predecessors’ actions before they start griping about being woken up at midday on Sunday.

According to the self-proclaimed historian of the Russian bells, resident tutor Luis A. Campos ’99, students were a bit more creative when the Russian bells were originally installed in the 1930s. Using Charles R. Crane—of Crane toilet fame and the man who donated the bells to Harvard—as inspiration, Lowellians organized a simultaneous house-wide flushing to protest the ringing of the bells.

“They also clanged pots and pans, and shouted out windows to voice their displeasure,” Campos says.

But following this period of hostility, some students began to accept and embrace the bells, and eventually formed the Lowell House Society of Russian Bell Ringers during the 1950s to ensure that they would be rung on an active basis, a tradition that is still practiced to this day.

And though the bell ringers may lack the talent of the Russian monks who visited Lowell in December 2003, that’s okay; it’s loud banging, not professional skill that is prized. The regulars actively encourage the first-time visitors to go up to the platform and belt out a few tones on the 13 functioning bells.

“They pushed me up on the [bell-ringing platform], and I was terrible,” Mary J. Hester ’08 said of her first ringing experience. “But they were really nice, and were like, ‘You should come back next week.’… I’m definitely coming back every week.”

There are even rumors floating around Lowell that one of the members of the society, Lucas T. Laursen ’06, actually picked his suite on the top floor of F-entryway so that he could be closer to the bells. Laursen, however, quickly dismissed such musings as fantasy.

“I am in that room, but it’s not really for the bells,” Laursen said. “It’s just that it worked out for my roommates and I who wanted that floor layout.”

But adding weight to the rumor, Laursen admitted visiting the Danilovsky Monastery—the original home of the bells—while in Moscow with his family this summer.