Downtown bells brought back to life after 20 years - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Downtown bells brought back to life after 20 years

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The bells at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Toledo have been silent for decades, however an effort is underway to bring the music back. It's called "Ringing Toledo's bells" and a group of volunteers is working to raise tens of thousands of dollars to make it happen.

13abc's Lissa Guyton went up in the bell tower today and it was quite an experience. After several flights of narrow and extremely steep stairs, Lissa and videographer Todd Gaertner arrived in the tower. They say what they found was amazing.

The bells were installed in 1943. Flash forward to 1992 and the bells fell silent. They've been that way ever since, but Dr. Wayne North is behind the effort to change that. He's a member of the congregation at Trinity and a Veterinarian by trade. He's volunteered countless hours to bring the music back to the corner of St. Clair and Adams, "I contacted a few bell companies and got a few experts to volunteer their time come in and take a look at them.  I followed along as they made their way into the tower and I was blown away by what's up here."

Other than the dust and the years of neglect, Dr. North says you quickly realize these are no ordinary bells, "When you think of bells everybody thinks of the swinging kind, but these are fixed bells. They hang and then they are rung with strikers. You can play music on them so literally they are an instrument not just a bell that rings."

One of the most unusual things about these bells is their size. To give you an idea just how big they are, they weigh a total of 9.6 tons, the biggest of which tips the scales at a whopping 4,600 pounds. Today experts say you'd be hard pressed to find a bell that weighs 1,000 pounds.

The Smith Bell and Clock Company from Indiana is working on the restoration. JJ Smith is the president of the company, "We're a dying breed, actually we're one of only two companies in the US still casting and tuning bronze bells."

Smith says on a scale of 1-10, this project is an 8," They are made of bronze, an alloy that's 80 percent copper and 20 percent tin so they are the real deal. So long after we're all gone, the people of Toledo will still be able to enjoy these bells."

Of course all this costs money. It will take about $50,000 to make the music again and Dr. North says they won't start the project until they've raised every penny of it, "It's not a matter of people donating $100, $1,000 or $10,000 every little bit helps and if 25,000 people send in 2 dollars each we would have all our money and the project would be on the way."

Once the money has been raised it will take several months to fully restore the bells. If all the money is raised by the end of the year, the bells could be ringing again as soon as April.

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