NC State’s Memorial Bell Tower Tour

View of Bell Tower from Holladay Hall

Yesterday, I went on a free tour of NC State’s Memorial Bell Tower. Whenever I approach PR’s or if I’m en route to Cup A Joe, I’ll take a moment to admire the tower’s grandeur, but even as an alum and neighbor to it, I knew very little about it. Luckily, there is someone who is a Memorial Bell Tower aficionado and proudly shares his enthusiasm with others by leading tours! Dr. Tom Stafford, former Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, invited alumni to join him on a tour of the bell tower and so I went, along with one of my Delta Gamma sisters.

I was especially excited about this tour because I had just picked up a rare find at Reader’s Corner used bookstore, North Carolina State University: A Pictorial History. This book was published in celebration of my Alma Mater’s centennial milestone and in the year that I was born, 1987 (NCSU was founded on March 7th, 1887). Now that I’ve taken the tour, I can flip through the pages with even more insight.

Centennial Celebration Book, 1987

I’m going to brief you all on the tour, but I do not want to give away any spoilers! I encourage you, especially if you are a member of the Wolfpack, to go on one of these tours. Dr. Stafford has lead over a hundred of them and has continued to lead them since retiring in 2012. There is limited space on the tour (you will understand why in a minute), but next time I see one coming up I will be sure to Tweet it out from the rooftops!

We started the tour at Holladay Hall, NC State’s first building and home to the first day of classes on October 3rd, 1889. Holladay Hall held everything the students needed, thus named the “Main Building” of the North Carolina College of Agriculture & Mechanic Arts. So when people ask you, “What’s the oldest dorm/dining hall/health center on campus?” You can answer assuredly with “Holladay Hall!”.

Holladay Hall 1890 vs 2014
Top photo circa 1890

Dr. Stafford went on to share some pretty amazing stories including one about a current student who is the great, great, grandson of someone in NC State’s inaugural class (yes, meaning he was there on October 3rd, 1889!). Next, he took us to the back entrance of Holladay Hall. But first, he pointed out a gem that most of the alumni had never even noticed. I used the excuse that most of my classes were held on Centennial Campus, so I seldom spent time on Main Campus, and that is why I had not seen the iconic Block S molding on the back facade of Holladay Hall!

Holladay Hall Block S
The Block S on the back of Holladay Hall was added in the 1930s.

When all of the oohing and aahing had ceased, we were lead into the Chancellors’ Board Room before meeting in the very exclusive (and very small) carillon room! Wolfpackers know that there are no bells in our bell tower, but we do still have a carillon room from where the bell music originates. It plays on a cassette tape which is then amplified through speakers inside the tower.

NC State's Carillon Room
Helen, my DG sister and fellow Wolfpack alum, pretending to play live music for the bell tower in the carillon room.

Up until 1989, someone would play that very carillon at 5 o’clock to close out each work day and take record in a notebook. Unfortunately, the carillon pictured below is no longer in working operation (know of any carillon players/repairmen?). Live music is scarcely heard from the bell tower now, but one lucky little boy (future alum) and one alum got the opportunity to play few diddies on the modern-day carillon during the tour.

Carillon Record Notebook
Dr. Stafford points out the record keeping of those who played the carillon.

My mind is blown at how much history (and how many people) a few square feet can hold!

At this point, I could barely recognize that we were on a bell tower tour. Before arriving on campus, I figured the tour would last 30 minutes. We’d get a peek inside, listen to a couple of stories, and be done with it for the day. Boy was I pleasantly surprised that it was far from that! Nearly 90 minutes into the tour, we made it to the base of the bell tower.

Our bell tower was erected as a memorial to the NC State alumni who died during World War I. Construction began in 1921, but was halted when money ran out quickly due to the Great Depression. It was completed in 1937 with funds from the Works Progress Administration.  Because of the haphazard construction schedule, you can tell a difference in the shades of granite stonework throughout the exterior of the tower when the lighting is right.

Memorial Bell Tower Shrine Room

bell tower shrine room
Looking up to the top of the tower from the floor of the Shrine Room.

We finally made our way into the shrine room and this is the part that I definitely don’t want to give away. There are 35 names inscribed in the shrine room of those who died during WWI. However, we only lost 34 men to the war! Someone made a mistake, and there is no CTRL+Z when it comes to engraving. One of the names on the list has been altered. Can you tell which name was edited to save face? (Look very closely!)

NC State WWI memorial

I’m not telling you the answer because I urge you to go on this tour and find out for yourself! We stopped only a handful of times, but the tour was 2 hours long! It is thanks to the storytelling ability and obvious passion of guides like Dr. Stafford that the historic preservation of key landmarks is maintained. Holladay Hall and the Memorial Bell Tower stand proudly and soundly today, after years of memories and many more yet to be made.

A Breaking Bad Tour of Albuquerque

In this day and age, preparing for a special occasion can include coming up with a hash tag to use on social media. Not only does this hash tag provide a “brand” for the event, but it helps keep track of all of the Instagrams and Tweets the people in your party post to the web! I was very excited to come up with a hash tag for our winter vacation (it’s the little things in life, isn’t it?). We decided on #pritchettsbreakbad because it defined our final destination of ABQ. But I think it also of mirrors the spontaneity of the entire trip, which we are not necessarily known for! 🙂

We flew into Las Vegas Christmas night and over the course of a few days made appearances at the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, and among the red rocks of Sedona before ending up in Albuquerque for a self-guided tour of Breaking Bad filming locations. You may call us crazy/obsessive fans, and I may agree with you but ABQ is the Hollywood of critically-acclaimed, Emmy award winning television!

Before leaving for our vacation, I created a Google Custom Map with all of the locations we wanted to check out. Making a custom map is really easy and fun! I made one previously for Historic Raleigh Sites. Since many people have already done the Breaking Bad “tour”, there was a lot of info out there to help us research exact addresses. The Breaking Bad Wiki was also very helpful! Here’s our final map (I hope to improve upon it for future BB tourists – still needs some cleaning up):

Using Ben’s Android smart phone, we navigated all over New Mexico’s largest metropolis to see the sites! Here’s a brief (seriously, we saw A LOT of sites) pictorial review of Breaking Bad’s Albuquerque. If you are as much of a super fan as I am, you will instantly recognize these locations and be able to remember the scenes, but I’ve included AMC screenshots for reference! I also need to apologize for the quality of some of the photos – I took a few out the car window (plus I don’t have the skills nor the means that cinematographer Michael Slovis has).

WARNING: I can’t promise that the following doesn’t contain spoilers, but I’ll try to steer clear 😉

A1A Car Wash | Octopus Car Wash
A1A Car Wash | Octopus Car Wash
A1A Car Wash, Abiquiú - AMC
A1A Car Wash | Episode Shown Here: Abiquiú | Debuts in Pilot
Jesse Pinkman's House
Jesse Pinkman’s House | Another BB Tourist took our picture!
Jesse Pinkman's House - AMC
Jesse Pinkman’s House | Episode Shown Here: Caballo Sin Nombre | Debuts in Pilot
The White Residence
The White Residence
The White Residence - AMC
The White Residence | Debuts in Pilot
Crossroads Motel - "The Crystal Palace"
Crossroads Motel – “The Crystal Palace”
Crossroads Motel - "The Crystal Palace"
Crossroads Motel – “The Crystal Palace”
Crossroads Motel - "The Crystal Palace" | Wendy's Residence - AMC
Crossroads Motel – “The Crystal Palace” | Episode Shown Here: …and the Bag’s in the River | Featured throughout series
Schrader Residence
Schrader Residence
Schrader Residence - AMC
Schrader Residence | Episode Shown Here: Seven Thirty-Seven | Featured throughout series
The Dog House
The Dog House
The Dog House, Seven Thirty-Seven - AMC | Also shown in Crazy Handful of Nothin' and Blood Money
The Dog House | Episode Shown Here: Seven Thirty-Seven | Also shown in Crazy Handful of Nothin’ & Blood Money
Tuco's Headquarters
Tuco’s Headquarters
Tuco's Headquarters, Crazy Handful of Nothin' - AMC
Tuco’s Headquarters | Episode Shown Here: Crazy Handful of Nothin’
Jesse & Jane's Apartment | A very nice neighbor took our picture!
Jesse & Jane’s Apartment | A very nice neighbor took our picture!
Jesse & Jane's Apartment, Breakage - AMC
Jesse & Jane’s Apartment | Episode Shown Here: Breakage | Featured throughout Season 2
Beneke Fabricators
Beneke Fabricators
Beneke Fabricators - AMC
Beneke Fabricators | Debuts in Negro y Azul
Saul Goodman's Office
Saul Goodman’s Office
Saul Goodman's Office - AMC
Saul Goodman’s Office | Debuts in Better Call Saul
Combo's Corner
Combo’s Corner
Combo's Corner
Combo’s Corner


Combo's Corner, Mandala - AMC
Combo’s Corner | Episode Shown Here: Mandala
Combo's Corner, Abiquiú - AMC
Combo’s Corner | Episode Shown Here: Abiquiú
Los Pollos Hermanos | Twisters
Los Pollos Hermanos | Twisters
Los Pollos Hermanos - AMC | Debuts in Mandala, featured throughout season 2, 3 & 4
Los Pollos Hermanos | Debuts in Mandala, featured throughout season 2, 3 & 4
Los Pollos Hermanos | Twisters
Los Pollos Hermanos | Twisters
Los Pollos Hermanos, No Mas - AMC
Los Pollos Hermanos | Episode Shown Here: No Mas
Million Dollar Deal | De Anza Motel
Million Dollar Deal | Motel de Anza
Motel de Anza, Mandala - AMC
Motel de Anza | Episode Shown Here: Phoenix
Lavanderia Brillante | Delta Laundry
Lavanderia Brillante | Delta Laundry
Lavandería Brillante
Lavanderia Brillante – Superlab | Debuts in Más, featured throughout season 3 & 4
Lazer Base
Lazer Base
Lazer Base, Full Measures - AMC | Debuts in Abiquiu, also featured in Hazard Pay
Lazer Base | Episode Shown Here: Full Measures | Debuts in Abiquiu, also featured in Hazard Pay
4th level of Copper St. Parking Deck
4th level of Copper St. Parking Deck
Gus Fring walking toward his car in End Times - AMC
Gus Fring walking toward his car | Episode Shown Here: End Times
Casa Tranquila | Medical Complex
Casa Tranquila | Medical Complex
Casa Tranquila, Face Off - AMC | Gus visits Hector prior to this episode
Casa Tranquila | Episode Shown Here: Face Off | Gus visits Hector here prior to this episode
Denny's, Live Free or Die - AMC
Denny’s | Episode Shown Here: Live Free or Die
Vamanos Pest | An auto mechanic shop
Vamanos Pest | An auto mechanic shop
Vamanos Pest - AMC | Debuts in Hazard Pay, featured throughout season 5.1
Vamanos Pest | Debuts in Hazard Pay, featured throughout season 5, part 1
Cafe where Lydia meets with associates | Grove Cafe & Market - very delicious!
Cafe where Lydia meets with associates | Grove Cafe & Market – very delicious!
Cafe, Gliding Over All - AMC | Featured throughout season 5, part 1 & 2
Cafe | Episode Shown Here: Gliding Over All | Featured throughout season 5, part 1 & 2
Extractor Pick-up Location | John B Robert Dam
Disappearer Pick-up Location | John B Robert Dam
Extractor Pick-up Location, Confessions - AMC | Also featured in Ozymandias
Disappearer Pick-up Location | Episode Shown Here: Confessions | Also featured in Ozymandias
Civic Plaza
Civic Plaza
Civic Plaza, Rabid Dog - AMC
Civic Plaza | Episode Shown Here: Rabid Dog


To'hajiilee - AMC
To'hajiilee - AMC
To’hajiilee | Episode Shown Here: Ozymandias

Best Quality Vacuum Repair | On the Spot Vacuum Repair

Best Quality Vacuum Repair | On the Spot Vacuum Repair
Best Quality Vacuum Repair, Granite State - AMC
Best Quality Vacuum Repair | Episode Shown Here: Granite State


A Very Pritchett Christmas

Growing up, decorating for Christmas was a true delight. A plethora of new decorations was added to the Hilgers’ Family Collection each year that my brother and I were in elementary school. As I got older and stopped making construction paper ornaments with craft yarn, the Christmas collection was very carefully curated by my mom. I enjoyed helping her decorate our family’s home with treasures from 3rd grade’s Christmas Around the World curriculum alongside souvenir ornaments from trips to places like Hawaii and Wyoming. My dad would joyfully (or at least appear to be joyful) string the colorful lights along the shrubbery in the front yard. It was a magical time.

Ben and I are celebrating Christmas for the first time in our circa 1940 bungalow. Last year at this time when were under contract, I dreamed that 2013’s holiday season would feature twinkling lights wrapped around the white pillars that frame our blue front door, which would be adorned by classic natural swag. As guests stepped through the threshold, they would be immersed in a charming Christmas scene complete with vintage red bows, a mechanical train set, gifts sweetly wrapped in burlap and twine, a retro copy of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas gingerly placed on the coffee table (next to a plate of gingersnaps of course), and the aroma of a freshly cut Frazier fir gleaming with winter’s first frost.

Perhaps this vision is best fit for 2014? I should have remembered when planning out the lights and the tree that we have yet to complete our electrical grounding, nor fix the few outlets that plum don’t work at all. As I unpacked all of the two Rubbermaid bins of hand-me-down Christmas decorations (ok – there are a few decorations we’ve collected over the years!) and started to hang the lights, I quickly realized I am mimicking Clark W. Griswold’s extension cord technique, only without the return of the brightest house on the block. Needless to say, decorating for Christmas at the Pritchett house was a rude reminder that although we are blessed with running water, gas heat, and Netflix, our lovely home still requires much TLC!

Outdoor Lights
Our attempt at outdoor lights…that don’t even make it around the whole window! :-/
Our Christmas
Our quaint little Christmas 🙂

I know that when we are able to make it on Raleigh’s Holiday Lights map or host the Cameron Park neighborhood party, we will smile nostalgically when reminiscing about Christmas 2013. In fact, I’m very thankful and excited to see how our collection of holiday decorations will grow and be curated over the years, just as it did at my parents’ house as a child.

Throwback Thursday: Couplehood

Tomorrow is a very special Throwback Thursday for Ben and me. November 21, 2013 marks 11 years of couplehood. It was the evening of the Apex High School Jazz Band concert. After the show, we went to one of our “usual spots” (aka one of the only acceptable yet cool places to go for teenagers) – Caribou Coffee. There, Ben asked me to be his girlfriend! Shrieks! I don’t think that is how it happens with couples in their 20s or even late teens…but it was how things were done at age 15 and 16. Since then, it’s always been an honor to be Ben’s girlfriend, fiancee, and wife!

Let’s just take a quick trip back to 2002. What was it like then?

For starters, we were going to 80s parties, not 90s. Isn’t that ironic?

American Idol had its first season premiere as we closed out Emmy Award winning Friends.

Spiderman was the top grossing film of the year and Chicago earned the Oscar for Best Picture.

The 2nd most popular Google search was “shakira”. This statistic might not even be an accurate cultural portrait of the time as we used search engines such as AltaVista and Ask Jeeves.

Britney Spears was still in Pepsi commercials. Pepsi still had commercials.

On November 21, 2002, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” earned TRL’s number one spot. “How You Remind Me” by Nickelback was the hottest song of 2002 according to Billboard.

MySpace monopolized the online social world, for anyone who had DSL or RoadRunner. Remember our mutual pal Tom?

Google’s Blogspot competed with LiveJournal (and I’m not going to link to the “blog” my friends and I had in high school – I will let y’all guess as to what that URL is).

Before there was Google Hangouts, there was AOL Instant Messenger. Emoticon art ruled the AIM profile. (Somehow, this form of expression made it to the Facebook ‘wall’ for a short time).

Before Spotify, we made mixed CDs.

Don’t even get me started on the Pinterest of 2002. SO MANY COLLAGES! I think the phrase “maybe she’s born with it” is permanently inked backwards to the back of my thigh from all those hours cutting and pasting from magazines.

One word: Nokia.

2002 was a time when you made a phone call via land line and had to ask the parent who answered to speak to their son/daughter.

We did not text. We passed notes. In fact, we had entire notebooks. And, c’mon. Gelly Roll Pens.

How did people at school know if you had a new boyfriend or girlfriend without Facebook?! Were relationships even official back then?!

As much as we love our instant connection to the world that we now enjoy, we also tend to get nostalgic about these bygone trends. So Ben and I wanted to share the past 11 years with you all using a medium I’ve always been addicted to: PHOTOS! With commentary, of course!

December 2002

December, 2002

Ben: Was that the first year we were together? You’re really skinny there. That was at your Christmas party. I can tell by the decorations. I remember we were singing “Summer Lovin'”.

Lauren: You gave me a Frank Sinatra Christmas CD as your first gift to me ever. We were only together 2-3 weeks, so I don’t think I got you anything.

Spring 2003

2003 - April

B: This is not much later. It was one of our first shows at The Annex. It was a place that would accept our band to play.

L: I remember Kristin and I made t-shirts for the event. We made t-shirts for everything.

B: Yeah she made a drummer t-shirt.

L: Why do you have that necklace?

B: I thought it was cool.

Ben’s Senior Prom 2004

2004 - April

B: [Uncontrollable laughter] That’s a terrible picture. I look so excited. I don’t know what I”m supposed to be looking at. You look really pretty though. You kinda look like you do now.

L: I liked my dress that year. I regret wearing the straps.

B: That was when prom dresses were real prom dresses. They’re weird now.

Chicago, Summer 2005

2005 - June

L: This was like our first big trip together, besides Disney [in 2003] I guess. I think this was before selfies really got big. We did a lot of selfies.

B: When was this, 2007? I had that stupid looking beard.

L: No, 2005. And you have a beard now.

B: Well it’s not stupid looking. At least I don’t think so.

Outer Banks, Summer 2006


L: Ok, I’m not a huge fan of this picture. But this was between Webshots and when Facebook let you put pictures up so we are lacking pictures in 2006.

B: What are Webshots, what do you mean by that?

L: [Proceeds to the Wayback Machine to show him what Webshots looked like then]

B: I don’t think that was a thing.

L: Anyway, you were wearing the same shirt in this pic as you were in the last.

B: I really liked wearing red collared shirts during that time. Actually for a long time. You still wear that dress today.

Kevin & Rebecca’s Wedding, August 2007

2007 - August

B: That’s a really good picture. You have a really goofy smile. 

L: You must have been saying something funny. Or I was saying something funny.

Summer 2008

2008 - May

L: There is very little I remember about this cruise trip. But I do know it was your graduation present to yourself.

B: Yeah, then I got laid off. That was our first trip alone together. I guess that’s when we started to get our independence.

L: And when my hair started to get brown.

Annapolis, June 2009

2009 - June

L: This is when we met in Annapolis when I was living in NYC and my brother and Becky hosted Crabtacular. Do you remember the exact date?

B: August something.

L: No it was 2009.

B: July something

L: No. 2009. Something big happened in June 2009.

B: Michael Jackson died. That’s morbid.

L: And Billy Mays. The exact date was June 27. Two days after Michael and one day before Billy. And so goes the circle of life!

March 2010

2010 - March

B: That was good surprise I got you with.

May 2011

2011 - May

B: Nothing exciting happened between the time we got engaged and when we got married.

L: I like this picture, we look comical.

B: That was probably the best picture out of the bunch.

L: When was the last time you even looked at them all?

B: I don’t know, probably recently. I saw them enough after the wedding, we had to show them to everyone.

June 2012

2012 - June

L: My favorite picture from San Francisco. I loved reenacting Full House. We’re like Uncle Jesse and Rebecca on a picnic.

July 2013

2013 - July

B: ‘Aaaalllllriiightttt [in a Matthew McConaughey voice]’ – that’s what Quailford is saying.

L: Do you want to look at more pictures?! [Shuffles through collection of CDs and DVDs] We can check out Quailford’s x-rays from when he ate all of those glass ornaments.

And so ends a summary of our lives between 2002 and 2013. If the last 11 years have been this much fun, we’re excited to live our lives together in the next 11!

When I’m Not Blogging…

When I started writing on Hilgs House, I promised myself that blogging would not be a chore, but be a way to release pent-up cranial energy. Though the posts are infrequent, I find much happiness in my blogging policy!

I do hope that I will devote more time to my blog in the future, but in the meantime, here are the highlights of what I’ve been up to since my last blog post, which also happened to be the day after our 2nd wedding anniversary! 🙂

  • My besties and I threw a Bachelorette Bash for our bride-to-be Jules in Charleston, SC!


  • We witnessed the unity of two dear friends and documented the Wilson wedding using the hashtag #stryker4life

NC Swag

  • Back in Wolfpack Country, we partied down in celebration of the marriage of another pair of love birds!

Wedding Swag

  • I played hostess for my first ever bridal shower for my dearest gal pal, Truncey!


  • I helped celebrate the bachelorette party of another bride-to-be, Mandy, in Hickory, NC!

Fire Pit

  • I welcomed my new baby nephew with great joy into this magnificent world via FaceTime! Cheers to that!

More Champs!

So many of life’s milestones somehow were able to squeeze themselves into one summer month all between little bursts of fun with friends and family.