WWI me­mo­rial will be open for fes­ti­val Sun­day that will honor veter­ans

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - BY COLLEEN CUR­RAN ccur­ran@times­dis­ (804) 649-6151 Twit­ter: @coll­cur­ran

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.

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