History of the Bacheller Memorial Chime
The Bacheller Memorial Chime was donated to St. Lawrence University in 1926 by Irving Bacheller, from the class of 1882. The bells were displayed in front of the newly built Gunnison Memorial Chapel until they were installed in May, 1926. The first concert was scheduled for May 26, 1926, but was postponed until June 7, so that Bacheller could hear the first notes. On the largest bell is inscribed: "To Ann Bacheller: Musician, Wife, Comrade. My love for her put a new song in my heart. Therefore let the singing of these bells be the voice of my gratitude."
The bells were made by the Meneely Bell Company of Troy, NY. In addition to the bells at St. Lawrence, there are many Meneely bells still in use today, including ones in Sackett's Harbor, Watertown, Malone, Little Falls, and Canajoharie. There are 10 bronze bells (F, G, A, B-flat, C, D, E-flat, E, F, G) and they range in size from 18 inches to 4 feet in diameter. When purchased, the bells cost $5,000 and today the largest bell would cost more than $95,000. The largest bell (F) is 4 foot in diameter and weighs 1 ton. It is also the only free swinging bell of the 10. In 1994, the wooden rods and leather straps connecting the keyboard and the clappers were replaced with cables and hinges. It once took 20-25 pounds of force to play one bell and now it takes only 10-15 pounds.
In the 1930's and 40's, the student bell ringer received full tuition to St. Lawrence University as compensation for ringing the bells (approximately $250/year). Mary O'Neil '52 was the first female chimer. Many chimers have inscribed their names in plaster on the walls of the bell chamber.
Many of these facts were taken from Christopher Kenney's '96 senior thesis on the bells.
Every weekday during the school year, the bells are played from 5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. In addition, they are played at the various events listed below:
Moving Up Day
Other occasions as requested.
To request a bell ringer for a special event, please contact: Kathleen Buckley, Chaplain.
Meneely Bell Links (Makers of SLU Bells):
Index of Meneely (Watervliet Foundry) Installations
Index of Meneely (Troy Foundry) Installations
Evening when the chapel bells
Sing out the ending of our day
We wonder what the future tells,
When St. Lawrence bells no longer play.
Slowly as the years pass by
Each day the chapel bells will ring
Singing our praises to the shy
Echoing the love St. Lawrence brings.
Chapel bells, sing out with joy and tears
Chapel bells, ring on through future years
Some day when we've said farewell
Find we have wended on our way
In dreams we'll hear the chapel bells
Singing still the ending of our day.
by Eugene Wright '49