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Rees Memorial Carillon, Springfield

#17 of 48 in Things to do in Springfield
Landmark · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
The Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon is the gift of Senator Thomas Rees, publisher of the Illinois state register from 1881-1933. During World War I, Rees served on the International Board of Arbitration for newspapers and later for unions, providing him the opportunity to travel Europe and beyond. Rees attributes his great interest in bells to visiting carillons in Belgium and the Netherlands- though his initial interest was the result of reading articles in National Geographic, the Musical Quarterly, and Art & Archeology by William Gorham Rice.

Rees provided a bequest to build his instrument, leaving specific instructions in his will regarding number of bells and its location. Robert Stuart, Springfield Park District President (1959-1975), carefully implemented the Senator's vision by consulting and hiring the architects, designers and the bell foundry when the carillon was constructed in 1962. The quality of the instrument coupled with size and location in the century old Washington Park distinguishes Rees Carillon as one of the world's finest instruments.

The Rees Carillon boasts 67 cast bronze bells covering a range of 5 1/2 chromatic octaves. Total weight equals 82,753 lbs; the largest (bourdon) bell weighs 7 1/2 tons with the smallest weighing 22 lbs. The instrument was cast by the 300-year-old bell foundry of Petit & Fritsen, Ltd., in Aarle-Rixtel, Netherlands. All of the bells are played manually from a World Standard Keyboard installed in the year 2000.
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Rees Memorial Carillon reviews

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56 reviews
  • What a unique experience. We had been looking for unique ideas to experience when we moved to the area. We read about this attraction in Washinton Park and noted it. We finally realized our goal...  more »
  • Check the schedule on-line. We went on Wed, they had theme concerts each week at 6:30. Fun to feel the power of the carillon. 67 bells, largest weighs 7.5 tons! Special hint, we found a monitor...  more »
  • We took the kids to hear the free carillon concert at 1pm. It's a very nice park with plenty of benches and gardens to wander through while listening to the bells. There is also a video screen at the base of the bell tower so you can see the carillon player during the concert. Tours of the tower are available for a small charge when the bells aren't being played. This was a fun little break from all the historical attractions in town.
  • We were lucky enough to be in Washington Park when the Carillon was open for tours. The tour guide was very gracious and patient with our children, in addition to being very knowledgeable. The tour is succinct, delivering interesting information in an appropriate length of time. We would highly recommend it for anyone seeking to know a bit more.

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