Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon

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Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon
Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon.jpg
Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon located in Washington Park, Springfield, Illinois, USA
General information
Type Carillon
Architectural style Brutalism
Location Washington Park, Springfield, Illinois, United States
Coordinates 39°47′22″N 89°41′00″W / 39.7893333°N 89.6834722°W / 39.7893333; -89.6834722Coordinates: 39°47′22″N 89°41′00″W / 39.7893333°N 89.6834722°W / 39.7893333; -89.6834722
Inaugurated June 1962
Renovated 1978, 1987, 1993, 2000, 2008
Cost $200,000
Renovation cost $90,000 (2008)
Owner Springfield Park District
Height 132 feet
Technical details
Lifts/elevators 1
Design and construction
Architect Bill Turley
Other designers Petit & Fritsen (bell casting)

The Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon is a carillon located in Washington Park in Springfield, Illinois. The brutalist tower stands 132 feet and is constructed from concrete, brick and steel. It was dedicated in 1962 and designed by Bill Turley. Each year the carillon hosts the International Carillon Festival which features world-renowned carillonneurs.


The Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon is located in Springfield, Illinois' Washington Park and was dedicated in June 1962.[1][2][3] A trust fund bequeathed by local newspaper publisher Thomas Rees - he published the Illinois State Register from 1881 until 1933 - provided the money for the construction of the carillon.[2] The trust fund provided $200,000 to build and maintain a carillon in Springfield.[3] Rees had traveled through the Netherlands and Belgium where he discovered his enjoyment of the sounds produced by carillons.[2]

The carillon has been periodically closed and renovated through its lifetime. In 1978, the transmission system was updated and in 1987 the carillon experienced a major renovation.[4] The 1987 work was done, in part, to install a new transition system for the bells.[4] The Rees Carillon was closed for a period in 1993 while it underwent a major structural renovation.[4] In 2008 the Rees Carillon underwent renovation that replaced seven of the bells' clappers at a cost of $90,000.[3]


The Rees Carillon is a free-standing open tower which features 67 bells that have a total weight of 82,753 pounds (37,536 kg).[3] The tower was designed by architect Bill Turley, who had several other Springfield commissions including the present-day Hoogland Center for the Arts and the Springfield YMCA.[5] The bronze bells vary in size with the largest bell, the G-flat, weighing 7.5 short tons (6.8 t) and the smallest bell weighing 22 pounds (10.0 kg).[3][4] The tower stands in the park surrounded by gardens and a reflecting pool.[1] The carillon originally featured 66 bells but a 67th bell, B-flat, was added in February 2000.[3][6] The bells were cast by Petit & Fritsen in Aarle-Rixtel from the Netherlands.[3]

The Rees Carillon stands 132 feet (40 m) and features three observation decks within its open interior.[6][7][8] The tower is constructed from concrete, brick and steel.[8] The Rees Memorial Carillon is claimed to be one of the world's largest; the Springfield, Illinois Convention & Visitor's Bureau claims it is the 3rd largest, while the local public television affiliate simply asserted it as "one of the world's largest" in 1997.[1][2] Additionally, author Don Davenport stated it was the world's 5th largest carillon in 2002.[7] The Rees Carillon was also featured in a slideshow on Midwest Living's website where it was called "one of the world's largest carillons".[9] The Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon is an example of brutalism.[10]

Festival and tours[edit]

The Rees Memorial Carillon hosts a week-long international carillon festival each summer, typically held during the week that concludes with the first full weekend in June.[1][3][11] The International Carillon Festival is typically held in June and features concerts during the evenings of festival week.[1][3][11] World class carillonneurs come to the United States to play the International Carillon Festival.[11] The 2011 festival was held from June 5–12 and was the festival's 50th anniversary.[3] Though the carillon was dedicated in 1962, the first International Carillon Festival at Washington Park was in 1961.[12] In the 2007 edition Chase's Calendar of Events called the Rees Memorial Carillon's International Carillon Festival "the world's best known carillon festival."[12] Tours of the carillon are available during the spring and summer;[9] The Springfield Park District's website includes tour and concerts times. Winter tours are available by appointment only.[11] Entrance to the Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon requires paying a nominal fee.[1][11] Visitors to the carillon can travel to the top by elevator where a scenic view of Springfield awaits.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon", Springfield Illinois Convention & Visitor's Bureau, official site, retrieved January 22, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d "Thomas Ress Memorial Carillon in Springfield", (video), Prairie Fire, episode #542, WILL; PBS, May 8, 1997, retrieved January 22, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Nevel, Jason. "Carillon festival will show off new lighting system", State Journal Register, June 3, 2011, retrieved January 22, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d "History", "Carillon" - Springfield Park District, official site, retrieved January 22, 2012.
  5. ^ "Hoogland Center for the Arts", Springfield, Illinois: Historic Sites Commission, official site, retrieved January 22, 2012.
  6. ^ a b "On the Cover", Illinois Parks and Recreation, 05, July/August 1984, retrieved January 22, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Davenport, Don. In Lincoln's Footsteps: A Historical Guide to the Lincoln Sites in Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky, (Google Books link), Big Earth Publishing, 2002, p. 132, (ISBN 193159905X).
  8. ^ a b Volkmann, Roberta and Volkmann, Carl. Springfield's Sculptures, Monuments, and Plaques, (Google Books link), Arcadia Publishing, 2008, p. 75, (ISBN 0738551651).
  9. ^ a b "Springfield, Illinois: Lincoln Country", (slideshow), Midwest Living, retrieved January 22, 2011.
  10. ^ "Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon", Emporis, retrieved January 22, 2012.
  11. ^ a b c d e "International Carillon Festival", Springfield Park District, official site, retrieved January 22, 2012.
  12. ^ a b "Chase's Calendar of Events 2007, (Google Books link), McGraw-Hill, 2006, p. 304, (ISBN 0071468188).

External links[edit]