Central's new 50-bell carillon was recently installed inside its fully-renovated bell tower
NEW YORK, Oct. 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Central Presbyterian Church (“Central”) today announced it will celebrate the dedication of a fully-restored bell tower and its stunning new 50-bell carillon with an outdoor concert at its premises on Park Avenue at 64th Street on Saturday, October 3 at 5:30 p.m. EDT. This event marks an important milestone for Central which initiated a complete restoration of its historic bell tower in 2017 through a significant gift from a generous donor. The event is open to the public and will feature a musical program for bells comprised of selected hymns.
Central is a historic congregation on the Upper East Side of Manhattan originally founded in 1821. In September 1929, Central moved into its current building located on Park Avenue at 64th Street. The neo-gothic building was constructed in 1922 and principally funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. as the home for Park Avenue Baptist Church. The building quickly proved too small for that congregation, prompting Rockefeller to build Riverside Church in Morningside Heights for the Baptist congregation. This provided Central with the opportunity to purchase the nearly new building, which was appropriately nicknamed “the little cathedral,” and begin holding worship services shortly before the historic stock market crash of 1929.
Central’s octagonal bell tower once housed a 53-bell carillon, given by Rockefeller in memory of his mother, Laura Spelman Rockefeller. The original carillon, cast by the Gillet and Johnston foundry in Croydon, England, was the largest carillon in the world at the time. Given the grand size and significance of the project, King George V and Queen Mary visited the foundry in Croydon to view the bells firsthand before they were shipped to America. The newspapers reported that when the first notes of the bells sounded from the tower on Park Avenue, “automobilists stopped their cars and listened and soon far down the avenue hundreds had halted.”
The original carillon of bells, however, was removed from the tower and transferred to Riverside Church upon the sale of the building to Central. As a result, Central’s storied bell tower has stood empty and silent for the past 90 years. That is now about to change. Thanks to a generous gift from a committed Central family, Central has purchased a new carillon of 50 bells cast by the Paccard Foundry, a bell manufacturer in Annecy, France, that has been continuously operated since 1796 by seven generations of the Paccard family.
Senior Pastor Jason Harris commented, “For nearly a century, the silence of the bell tower served as a poignant metaphor for Central’s decline, as the congregation dwindled in size and the building fell into disrepair. But in recent years, we have witnessed this old church burst back to new life. By God’s grace, Central has become one of the most vibrant churches in the city, welcoming professionals, families, students, and artists from all different backgrounds into a united community of faith in Jesus. It is our earnest prayer that the return of the sound of bells will symbolize renewed life within our community and signal a note of hope in the city after such a long period of uncertainty and silence.”
All are welcome to participate in this long-awaited and momentous occasion.
A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/ad001290-aa23-4c7c-8464-63611bf1ec48
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