South College belfry will receive eight new bells and a facelift during the
next several months.
This renovation will add eight new bells to the current 16-bell array. This
will upgrade the status of the Wesleyan bells from a chime (10-22 bells) to
that of a carillon (23 or more).
“Now we’ll have more notes, so we can play more songs, and more complicated
songs,” said six-year chimemaster Peter Frenzel, professor emeritus of
German studies. “We’re moving out of the minor league of bell playing and
into the major league.”
Staff from Physical Plant will replace the roof within the bell tower prior
to the bell addition. Staff will paint and restore the exterior railings,
louvers and wood portions of the tower. Painting of the interior stairwell
will also occur.
Construction will begin in mid-July and conclude in September. The bell’s
keyboard has already been temporarily dismantled.
actual work to the bells is expected to take six weeks. The new bells will
be cast by Petit & Fritsen, the Royal Dutch Bell Foundry in The Netherlands,
and then shipped to Cincinnati via New Orleans and the Mississippi and Ohio
rivers. They'll later be completed and fine-tuned and installed by the
Verdin Bell Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Peter Staye, associate director of Physical Plant’s Academic and
Administrative is coordinating the exterior renovation. The new bells, he
says, will be hoisted up by crane and installed through back panels in the
copper-top dome of South College will not be removed or altered.
Eagle Rivet Roofing Services of West Hartford will erect all scaffolding
around all four sides of the bell tower. The scaffolding will remain in
place until the carillon is complete.
Acquiring a carillon for the university has been in the planning stages
since 1999. The new bells, which will greatly expand the music being played,
were all donated by Wesleyan friends, alumni and parents.
During construction, all entrances, exits and stairways in South College
will be open.