CARILLON BELLS TO CHIME ON ARMISTICE DAY
WWI memorial will be open for festival Sunday that will honor veterans
Ralph Olberg, a project manager with the Virginia Department of General Services, gave a tour Friday inside the Carillon in Richmond. With its first phase of renovations complete, the tower will host the Armistice Day Festival on Sunday, marking 100 years since the end of World War I. The Carillon opened in 1932 as a state memorial to the First World War.
The Richmond Carillon will open to the public this Sunday for the first time since extensive renovations began last year.
The historic building will open its doors for an Armistice Day Festival commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
The event will kick off with a Veterans Day Ceremony at Dogwood Dell that will begin with a solemn tolling of the Carillon bells 21 times in remembrance of the more than 100,000 Virginians who served in World War I.
The Carillon bells will join bells across the city and nation that will ring in honor of Armistice Day.
Gov. Ralph Northam and Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox will speak at the Dogwood Dell ceremony at 11 a.m. The Virginia National Guard WWI Honor Guard will present the colors dressed in uniforms of World War I soldiers, and there will be patriotic music from the 392nd Army Band Ensemble.
Afterward, visitors are invited to walk over to the Richmond Carillon for the Armistice Day Festival.
The Carillon opened in 1932 as a state memorial to World War I. When the Carillon originally opened, the ground floor served as a museum to the war.
On Sunday, the Carillon will fulfill that role again, if only for a day. After Sunday, it will close for further renovations.
Interpreters dressed as President Woodrow Wilson and first lady Edith Bolling Wilson will give a presentation based on the diaries and the letters of the Wilsons in front of the Carillon.
The newly renovated first floor will be open and filled with historical exhibits such as stereoscopic photos, a sort of early version of 3D photos, from World War I. Also on display will be a uniform from the 80th Infantry Division from
Fort Lee, nicknamed the “Blue Ridge Division,” with an insignia of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the uniform’s sleeve.
Outside, there will be period games like croquet and crafts for kids.
“The idea is to show what life was like in 1918,” said James Treisler with the Virginia War Memorial.
The bells of the Carillon will play music from 1918 later in the afternoon.
Visitors can explore the Profiles of Honor Tour, a mobile museum highlighting the stories of Virginians in World War I and World War II.
Antique cars from the World War I era will be on display.
The 240-foot “musical memorial” is owned by the state but had been managed by the city of Richmond and its Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities for many years, when it was used for meetings, events and the Richmond Nativity Pageant.
In 2016, the General Assembly put the Carillon back under management of the state. The Carillon has been closed for renovations since 2017.
The first phase of renovations, estimated at $2.8 million, has now been completed.
The 86-year-old elevator has been replaced with a modern one, although the old buttons were kept for nostalgia. A ramp has been installed to make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities
The outside of the Carillon underwent a full cleaning, and the structure also received window restoration, lighting replacements, masonry repointing, and mechanical and electrical repairs, among other updates.
On the first floor, old carpets were removed to reveal terrazzo floors with brass inlay.
“When I saw them, I said, ‘We’re not covering these back up,’ ” said Ralph Olberg, project manager for the renovations.
The original terrazzo floors were updated and refinished. The interior was also repainted and updated.
“The Carillon was last renovated in 1982,” said Dena Potter, a spokesperson for the state’s Department of General Services. “It’s such a significant building for the city and the state.”
After the Armistice Day Festival, the second and third renovation phases will begin. The fences will go back up around the Carillon.
Additional renovations include structural support to the framing system around the bells as well as roof and waterproofing repairs and upgrades to the restrooms.
While renovations are ongoing, the state will decide what the Carillon will be used for when it reopens.
The renovations are expected to be completed in
AT LEFT: The Carillon in Richmond will be open Sunday, but will close after the festival to undergo more renovations.
ABOVE: Ralph Olberg, a project manager for the Virginia Department of General Services, gave a tour Friday at the Carillon, where the $2.8 million first phase of a three-part renovation has been finished.