Designed by McKim, Mead, and White; the tower is 172 feet tall, but since it is set on a knoll its actual rise is about 200 feet. Visible for several miles, it is also occasionally audible as far as Durham.
The tower was the $100,000 gift of John Motley Morehead III, class of 1891, and Rufus Lenoir Patterson, class of 1893, honoring members of their families who had been associated with the University throughout its entire history.
At present, sixteen Moreheads and eleven Pattersons are commemorated on the tablets beneath the arcade. The largest bell, which tolls the hours, is engraved with the name of Governor John Motley Morehead, onetime president of the Alumni Association, and the next largest is inscribed to Revolutionary General William Lenoir, first chairman of the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees.
Originally rung manually, the carillon now operates electronically to call students to classes, provide twilight music, and serenade the dispersing crowd after football games.