ARLINGTON, Va. (ABC7) — Bells that have been ringing high atop an Arlington hill for nearly 60 years will soon go temporarily silent as they embark on a journey thousands of miles long.
The 50 bells make up the Netherlands Carillon, which is in a 127-foot tall steel tower in Arlington Ridge Park that overlooks the National Mall across the Potomac River.
The bells and tower were gifts from the Netherlands in gratitude for the USA’s role in liberating that country from the Nazis during World War II.
Both the bells and the steel tower are showing signs of age. This fall the National Park Service says it will begin a big rehabilitation project that will restore both.
The 50 bells will be taken down by crane and sent by ship to a foundry in the Netherlands, where they will be cleaned and retuned.
“There’s over 30 tons worth of bells, so you can imagine the work that’s going to go into removing those bells, putting them in shipping containers, and sending them to the Netherlands,” said Aaron LaRocca, a ranger with the National Park Service.
When the bells are returned, the Netherlands plans to donate three more bells, which will mean for the first time there will be enough bells to make up what’s called a “grand carillon.”
Meanwhile the tower -- which has large, visible signs of rust on its outer shell -- will be strengthened on the inside and made to look much better on the outside.
LaRocca says the renovation of the tower will be paid for by fees charged to enter some national parks.
He says the work is expected to begin this fall and finish by fall 2020.
The Netherlands Carillon is located a short walk from the Marine Corps War Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.
Before the bells were in Arlington, they were located in Meridian Hill Park in DC for eight years starting in 1952.