Tower Bell Foundation

The bells of Minneapolis City Hall and Hennepin County Courthouse



Inside the belfry

For over 50 years, this spiral staircase which ran from the 5th floor to the belfry (equivalent of 13th floor) was the only way to the tower.

Around 1947, a very small elevator was installed. The elevator was updated in 2013 with the latest safety systems, but it is no bigger than it ever was.

Once inside the belfry, a wooden staircase leads up to the bell deck, which sits atop the no-longer-used clavier room.

This clavier was used from 1924 when the chime was expanded to 14 bells until 1971 when it was automated. The chimes player would strike the wooden levers with his fists. The five lowest bells were also playable by pedal.

Biographies of our bells

Here are the vital statistics for each of the bells that comprise our instrument.

Bell No. 1 - middle C


Weight (lb.): 7283
Diameter (in.): 68
Year cast: 1895
Founder: Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.
True note: Bb below middle C

INSCRIPTION:
This Building Was Erected by the Board of Court House and City Hall Commission Organized April 25, 1887
Commissioners
Geo. A. Brackett Jno. DeLaittre John C. Oswald Wm. S. Chowen Oliver T. Erickson Lars Swenson
David M. Clough Edward M. Johnson John Swift Edgar F. Comstock Titus Mareck Wm. D. Washburn
Charles P. Preston, Secretary
Architects Frank B. Long --- Frederick Kees

Bell No. 2 - D above middle C


Weight (lb.): 5400
Diameter (in.): 64
Year cast: 1895
Founder: Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.
True note: Middle C

Bell No. 3 - E above middle C


Weight (lb.): 3780
Diameter (in.): 56
Year cast: 1895
Founder: Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.
True note: D above middle C

Bell No. 4 - F above middle C


Weight (lb.): 3240
Diameter (in.): 52.5
Year cast: 1895
Founder: Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.
True note: E above middle C

Bell No. 5 - F# above middle C


Weight (lb.): 2556
Diameter (in.): 49
Year cast: 1924
Founder: Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.
True note: E above middle C

INSCRIPTION:
Donated by the Edward M. and Effie R. Johnson Foundation 1923
Trustees
Mary Case Barney
William C. Johnson
Samuel E. Forest

Bell No. 6 - G above middle C


Weight (lb.): 2160
Diameter (in.): 46
Year cast: 1895
Founder: Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.
True note: F above middle C

Bell No. 7 - A above middle C


Weight (lb.): 1620
Diameter (in.): 42
Year cast: 1895
Founder: Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.
True note: G above middle C

INSCRIPTION:
The Gift of the Pioneer Fireproof Construction Co., the Contractors for Fire Proofing Upon This Building.

Bell No. 8 - Bb above middle C


Weight (lb.): 1296
Diameter (in.): 39
Year cast: 1895
Founder: Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.
True note: Ab above middle C

Bell No. 9 - B above middle C


Weight (lb.): 1080
Diameter (in.): 37
Year cast: 1895
Founder: Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.
True note: A above middle C

INSCRIPTION:
Presented by Mr. Louis L. Long and Miss Jessie Long who have assisted in the erection of this building by preparing architectural drawings in the office of Long & Kees, architects Minneapolis 1895

Bell No. 10 - high C


Weight (lb.): 864
Diameter (in.): 33.5
Year cast: 1895
Founder: Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.
True note: Bb above middle C

Bell No. 11 - C# above high C


Weight (lb.): 704
Diameter (in.): 31
Year cast: 1972
Founder: Petit & Fritzen Bellfoundry, Aarle-Rixtle, Netherlands
True note: B above middle C

Bell No. 12 - D above high C


Weight (lb.): 594
Diameter (in.): 30.5
Year cast: 1895
Founder: Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.
True note: High C

INSCRIPTION:
The gift of Sarah M. Preston, daughter of Chas. P. Preston. A.D. 1895

Bell No. 13 - E above high C


Weight (lb.): 453
Diameter (in.): 27
Year cast: 1924
Founder: Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.
True note: D above high C

INSCRIPTION:
We the pupils of the Minneapolis Public Schools Give This Bell That “The Star Spangled Banner” May Say to Our Citizens “Liberty and Peace for All”

Bell No. 14 - F above high C


Weight (lb.): 387
Diameter (in.): 26
Year cast: 1924
Founder: Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.
True note: Eb above high C


INSCRIPTION:
This bell given as a testimonial to J.H. Auld, municipal chime player, whose efforts made possible the four additional bells which were erected AD1924.
Donated by Public Spirited Citizens

Bell No. 15 - G above high C


Weight (lb.): 285
Diameter (in.): 23
Year cast: 1924
Founder: Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.
True note: F above middle C

Here is the layout of the bells within the tower:

Here are the four sides of the bell assembly:

North side bells (1, 10)

West side bells (3, 15, 9, 14, 12)

South side bells (2, 6)

East side bells (4, 7, 8)

Source of bell weights: Bells no. 1, 5, 11, 13, 14, and 15 are from founders' records. Bells 2-4, 6-10, and 12 are from an estimate by Meeks, Watson & Co., adjusted based on total weight of the original 10 bells per founder's records.

Historic elevator photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society, mnhs.org.

Thank you for visiting our web site!


Tower Bell Foundation
304 City Hall
350 S. 5th St.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415

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