A student here, an RA, emailed asking about the history of Hartwell, in particular the tower, and the possibility of going up there. Replied as follows:
Hi Penny, attached are pages from the 1940 yearbook, a description of the then
new building. (There had been an older building complex; that was torn down and
replaced by what later was named Hartwell Hall in the late 1930s.) The tower was
a part of the building from the beginning.
I don't know much to say about it, other than that such a tower or cupola
is a stock part of the building's Georgian style architecture. The building is
typical of many built in that era. There are a number of similar buildings
across the state, on SUNY campuses, local high schools etc.
I haven't been up in it in years, but can understand how you might like to
go up there! I recommend you ask Rick Lair, in Facilities, about the possibility
of going up there.