Last week I did a post on my recent trip to Longwood Gardens, and dear reader Christina was very pleased by the post....so this post is for her and her love of the gardens and my critters.Pierre du Pont constructed Longwood’s 61-foot-tall stone Chimes Tower based on a similar structure he had seen in France. He purchased the largest set of tower chimes he could find from the J.C. Deagan Company of Chicago after first borrowing one chime to test its carrying power. Twenty-five tubular chimes were installed in the upper tower chamber and Mr. du Pont installed a switch in the Peirce-du Pont House so he could activate the chimes from his residence. In 1941, the Deagan Company approached Mr. du Pont with word of their newly developed electronic imitation bells. Mr. du Pont noted, however, that he had "definitely decided not to make any change in the chimes at Longwood."
In 1955, a year after Mr. du Pont's death, the Deagan Company again contacted Longwood, noting with electronic-age enthusiasm: "Your Tower Chimes are outmoded and obsolete. So many important changes have taken place since 1930 that what you have at Longwood positively cannot be compared with what we have to offer today." In 1956, the original chimes were replaced with a 32-note electronic carillon. From 1956 to 1981, the electronic carillon sounded the quarter hours and played 16,000 daytime concerts and 600 evening concerts. In 1989, the electronic bells, which were in unacceptable playing condition, were disconnected.
The idea of restoring real bells to the tower was first proposed in 1977 by Schulmerich Carillons of Sellersville, PA. After 23 years of sporadic discussions and several trips to inspect instruments in this country and abroad, the Gardens signed a contract with Schulmerich's cast bell supplier, the Dutch firm Royal Eijsbouts, in June 2000 to build a 62-bell carillon. Longwood closed the Chimes Tower in February 2001 to renovate the structure for the new carillon in the top chamber. Since then live concerts in the summer and fall, the carillon rings mechanically every 15 minutes from 9:00 am-5:00 pm. But why this is neat to see, one of my favorite things is the birdseed trees...and where I met my new friend...another on my many minions.
Then today when I thought of dedicating the post to her, this cardinal landed on my sill for lunch. Merry Christmas Christina!