Silent Bells of Downtown Chicago

I’ve written about the digital bells you hear in downtown Chicago here and here, but there are other bells…real bronze bells, up in those tall skyscrapers. There’s some in the Metropolitan Tower, which is a blog post for another time, and there are four in the 11 South LaSalle Street Building, otherwise known as the Lumber Exchange Building and Tower or the Roanoke Building and Tower.

Thing is, these real bells in downtown Chicago have gone silent.

But I have pictures and some deets! These four bells were cast by the Meneely Bell Company in Troy, NY in 1926 when the tower was added to the building. They functioned as a clock-chime and chimed an original composition (don’t know who the composer was) called “Samheim,” which is Norse for tomorrow. The largest 7,201 lb bell has “Leander” inscribed on it in honor of Leander McCormick. McCormick and his brothers made their massive fortune manufacturing reaping machines. Later in life he owned large amounts of real estate in Chicago. The Roanoke Building was built fifteen years after his death in 1900, so likely an heir honored him by dedicating these bells to him.

And here are the beauts!

11 South LaSalle Street bells
11 South LaSalle Street bells
11 South LaSalle Street bells

Imagine if you could walk in downtown Chicago and here the unique tune from these bells marking the time. That would be lovely, wouldn’t it?

Thank you to Joep van Brussel at Royal Eijsbouts for sharing the photos and to Carl Zimmerman for sharing his info on the bells!


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