48-bell carillon being installed at university

Salisbury University’s new 48-bell carillon, containing two of the final bells cast by the British foundry that made the Liberty Bell, have been delivered and are being hung in the Patricia R. Guerrieri Academic Commons this week.

The bells will replace the electronic bells at Holloway Hall, that now ring on the hour.

On Tuesday, the infrastructure to support the new bells were lifted by crane and installed. On Wednesday, the installation of the bells began. That, too, is being done using a crane, according to Richard Culver, director of public relations for SU.

The massive keyboard console, bell supports and, finally, the bells will be lifted into their 147-foot tower. Full installation is expected to take up to three weeks.

The first truckload of bells arrived at SU on Monday and included the two biggest. The larger one weighs early 2.5 tons and is about 5 feet high and 60 inches across. It was cast by London’s Whitechapel Bell Foundry, creator of the original Liberty Bell.

That foundry closed this year after more than five centuries, Culver said.

The remaining 46 bells were cast by Meeks, Watson & Co. of Georgetown, Ohio, the largest bell foundry in the country.  Its patriarch, Richard Watson, now in his 70s, is believed to be the nation’s only remaining carillon bell tuner.

At 147 feet high, the bell tower is the tallest structure not only on campus but also in Wicomico County. A special crane had to be used to hoist the bells, Culver said.

The $2.4 million Brown and Church Carillon will be one of fewer than 200 traditional carillons in the country.

The impressive, four-story Guerrieri Academic Commons opened in the fall, promising to be a state-of-the-art centerpiece for the campus and community. The $117 million structure was dedicated by Guerrieri family members and Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach, president of SU.

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