The Coughlin Campanile; A Prairie Icon

In the 1920’s the then President of South Dakota State College, as it was known then, Charles W. Pugsley worked tirelessly to beautify the campus of the institution that he served.  As part of his overall beautification plan he envisioned a bell tower located near the campus gateway.  As the plan took shape President Pugsley worked with Engineering Professor, and 1892 graduate, Hubert B. Mathews on a plan and to help find a benefactor who could turn that vision into a reality.
In stepped Charles Coughlin from the class of 1909.  Charles an electrical engineering grad originally from Carthage, SD was an executive at the Briggs and Stratton company.  A company that his friend Stephen F. Briggs Class of 1907 had founded.  When Charles was approached by Professor Mathews he eagerly agreed to help.  The initial estimates for construction were $15,000 to $20,000.  Wold-Mark Construction of Brookings won the job with a bid of $50,679 to build the 165 foot tall Coughlin Campanile and construction began in the fall of 1928.
As construction continued Professor Mathews on a number of occasions had to ask Charles Coughlin for additional funds and on one occasion Charles famously said “The sky is the limit”.  The Coughlin Campanile was completed in 1929 at a cost of $75,000, in time to celebrate the Charles Coughlin’s 20th anniversary of his graduation, and has been an iconic symbol of SDSU and higher education in South Dakota ever since