Swasey Chapel is the centerpiece of Denison University’s campus. Credit: Alan Miller

Three times a day, someone climbs up what seems like an unending set of stairs and an aging, rusty ladder to the highest point on the Denison University campus to keep tradition alive.

That place is the bell tower of Swasey Chapel, the centerpiece of Denison University’s campus. Dedicated in 1924, the chapel hosts uncounted convocations, lectures, performances, and other events each semester.

It also is home to a small keyboard of sorts, way up in the tower, from which a society of anonymous bellringers plays tunes that can be heard across campus and in the Village of Granville.

At 9:20 a.m., 11:20 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. each weekday, tunes such as “Hey Jude,” “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” or even the theme from Harry Potter movies can be heard, thanks to Denison’s oldest secret society.

The group has expanded its musical repertoire over time. Ten years ago, in 2013, nine new bells were added to the tower, allowing for a wider variety of music. Bellringers now are able to play a total of 16 notes controlled by the keyboard in a tiny room that, although very few have ever seen, everyone can hear.

Selah Griffin writes for TheReportingProject.org, the nonprofit news organization of Denison University’s Journalism program, which is funded by the Mellon Foundation and donations from readers.