Local man leads campaign to restore Trinity bellsWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
One Toledo resident is leading the charge for chimes.
Wayne North, a local veterinarian, wants to change the Downtown soundscape by restoring the bells at Trinity Episcopal Church so they can play again.
The bells have been silent since the mid-1980s due to weather and rust, North said. In 1941, Ellen Gardner purchased the bells in memory of her parents.
North, formerly a member of the now closed St. Mark’s, became interested in the bells when his congregation joined Trinity.
“One of the things that fascinated me was the bells … but when I went in and talked to people and said, ‘What about the bells?’ you’d get sort of these blank looks, like, ‘Bells, what are you talking about, bells?’” North said.
North was able to go into the tower after he contacted a representative from a bell company to accompany him. He was shocked to see 13 bells along his dusty and steep ascent into the tower.
“When I got up in the tower, I was absolutely stunned by what was up there, just sitting there,” he said.
The restoration of the 13 bells will cost $50,000. The Meneely Bell Foundry produced the bells, but closed in 1952, making the bells irreplaceable, North said.
The revitalized bells will not just be for the religious community, but the whole Downtown.
“We would start it off striking the hour. So people get acclimated to it, we would do noon and midnight rather than every hour until we see how everybody acclimates to that happening. Then we will do a scheduled concert,” North said.
“Let’s say when they have the fireworks on the Fourth of July, we play patriotic music,” he added. “It’s what we call restoring Toledo’s soundscape.”
Rev. Elizabeth Hoster of Trinity said about the project, “Part of our mission (at Trinity) is to be engaged in the life of the city. This is a new way or rather a renewal of an old way to do that.”
Smith’s Bell and Clock Company, a Mooresville, Ind., firm, will oversee the restoration. JJ Smith, the owner, said the project should take 8-12 weeks once started.
“They’ve got enough bells here to make a musical scale and we can take advantage of that through our bell controller and preprogram songs to play throughout the day,” he said.
North said he hopes to get the funds raised by the end of January so the bells are playing by spring.
“It’s really, really great to know we have this historic set of bells here in Toledo. I think getting them back into playable condition is really important and I think it’ll be a really wonderful addition to the Downtown area,” he said.
Contributions can be sent to The Old Trinity Foundation, Gardner Bell Fund, 316 Adams St., Toledo, 43604.