Bell tower

In 1988, Westminster topped off its 14-story bell tower at City Hall with a pyramid shaped steel mesh structure. In the years since Westminster moved into the new City Hall building at 4800 W. 92nd Ave., the 130-foot spire has never failed to inspire everything from the city logo to city slogans. Unfortunately, due to enhanced security measures, the bell tower is no longer accessible for public use.

The bell tower is now widely known and referenced as a community landmark. Its form has become, in many ways, synonymous with Westminster.

The idea for a bell tower did not anticipate such an important future. It was in 1986, when the City of Westminster was celebrating its 75th anniversary of incorporation, that the idea for a public monument or artwork was being discussed.

A bell tower was suggested because of its symbolic tie to Big Ben in Westminster, England. The idea was immediately and enthusiastically endorsed and a private donor was identified to fund such a monument.

The concept and design for a bell tower coincided with the development of architectural plans for the new City Hall. Originally, the tower was proposed at one of several locations, including City Park and the Westminster Mall. Those sites were set aside in favor of incorporating the tower into the design of the new City Hall, ultimately as a centerpiece for the facility.

Lord Mayor of Westminster, England photoThe link to Westminster, England, was further solidified with the visit of an entourage of distinguished persons from that city - including the Lord Mayor herself - all of whom were present for the groundbreaking of the new City Hall and bell tower.

Today, an English oak grows among the trees on the City Hall property - a gift to Westminster, Colorado, from Westminster, England, in commemoration of the 1986 visit.


Bell Purchase Donations

The $30,355 bell purchase was funded entirely by private donations. Donors include:

Platinum-level donors
Jim and Lynne Sullivan of SullivanHayes Brokerage

Gold-level donors
Mike and Charlotte Schaffner
Walt and Georgia Imhoff
Elaine and Merril Cook - In memory of Richard Cook
The family of Harold Bruchez - In his memory

Silver-level donors
Carlson, Hammond & Paddock, L.L.C.
Alan, Suzanne, Melanie and Josh Miller
Mr. and Mrs. William Christopher
Covenant Village of Colorado
Philip and Betty Roan
Westminster Community Artist Series

About the Bells

In 1997, 10 new bells were added to the 14 existing bells in the Westminster Bell Tower, making the set into the state's second largest carillon.

The new bells were cast by the Petit and Fritsen Bell Foundry, the Royal Dutch Bell Founder, Aarle-Rixtel, Holland. Each bronze bell took approximately one month to make and is composed of pure copper and block tin. The largest bell has a 25-inch diameter and weighs 341 pounds.

The bells are operated by a keyboard located at the base of the bell tower. The bells can be played by a carillonneur or preprogrammed tapes can be played through the keyboard.

A story on the new carillon appeared in the Dec. 25, 1997, issue of the Rocky Mountain News:

The bells of Westminster's tower: With 10-bell addition, city will have suite of 24 bells, or enough for its goal of carillon

By Mike Patty
Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer

WESTMINSTER - The chime in the Bell Tower at Westminster City Hall is about to be promoted to a carillon.

A campaign to add 10 more bells to the existing 14 bells in the tower is nearly complete. Sponsors have purchased nine of the bells, which cost $3,000 apiece, and only one remains to be sponsored.

With a total 24 bells, the Westminster tower will be the second largest bell system in the state, second only to the 30-bell carillon at the University of Denver School of Law.

"We now have a chime, a system of 9 to 14 bells the sounds of which are represented by the 'white keys' and a few other notes," said Katie Harberg, Westminster's public information officer.

"With addition of the 10 bells we will have a carillon. A carillon is 23 or more bells and includes the 'black keys.' "

The idea for the Bell Tower was born in 1986 when city officials were searching for a monument or sculpture to commemorate the 75th Anniversary celebration of the City's incorporation.

"I had an idea that harkened back to my days at the University of Nebraska and the carillon tower outside the journalism school," Harberg said. "The link with Westminster in England and Big Ben seemed like a neat idea. It captured peoples' imagination right from the beginning."

After considering several locations around the city it was decided to put the Bell Tower at the new City Hall, which was then being designed. The 14 story tower not only became the focal point of the building but the very symbol of the city itself.

"It's become a community landmark, the basis for our logo and, in many other ways, synonymous with the City of Westminster," Harberg said.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the new City Hall, which opened in 1988, it was decided to add the 10 bells to the tower.

"A carillon has a great advantage over a chimes in the range of melodies that can be played," Harberg said. "There are many compositions composed for a carillon that can't be played on a chimes."

The bells can be played either by an automatic electronic program or manually on a keyboard.

The campaign to purchase the bells, which are being cast in Holland, was launched in August. An anonymous donor has agreed to match individuals, businesses and organizations who would sponsor half of the $3,000 cost of a bell.

The bells are scheduled to be installed in the tower either in January or February.

"People have said ours are the most wonderfully tuned and beautiful-sounding bells in the Rocky Mountain area," Harberg said. "It really is a great cultural enhancement for the city."