Experiencing An Ancient Tradition in Ann Arbor Through Its Bells

Clip from carillon playing

The Art Deco-styled Burton Memorial Bell Tower in Ann Arbor has always caught my attention when I wander in downtown. I have long heard that there is an observation deck way up there with a set of 55 bells, one of the largest sets in the world. After several attempts to get up the tower, I finally did it shortly after last Christmas. Seriously, my experience there was simply amazing.

First, you have to walk up the narrow staircase around the tower to go up to the ninth floor, and then walk up and even narrower metal staircase to get to the observation deck. There is not that many places that I can experience this kind of space. Secondly, the aerial view of downtown Ann Arbor is stunning. So many buildings in Ann Arbor have beautiful slate roof. Being at the almost highest point in Ann Arbor, you can see as far as you want.

But the coolest part of my experience was being there when the bells were played. It has been said the practice of bell ringing in America directly traces back to its European root in the ancient time. Knowing this actually allows me to see the bell tower and the bell ringing in a very different way. I never thought I could close my eyes and just use my ears to experience something from more than 1000 years ago like in Rome or Paris a few times a day. It is a total luxury and people in Ann Arbor should feel very privileged. I have uploaded a clip from the bell ringing during my visit. It was beautiful.

downtown ann arbor – 12:07pm, jan 4, 2012


2 thoughts on “Experiencing An Ancient Tradition in Ann Arbor Through Its Bells

  1. vormav says:

    I actually had a chance to visit the tower about 10 years ago while on a trip, and I’m surprised how little anything has changed. Even the views are the same.

    I didn’t get a chance to hear the bells ringing when I was there though. Beautiful sound!

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