The Joseph Dill Baker Memorial Carillon was constructed in 1941 as a memorial to Joseph Dill Baker (1854-1938), “Frederick’s First Citizen”. Mr. Baker helped secure the land that is now Baker Park, financing a large amount of it personally, amongst other civic projects in Frederick. The instrument and tower were constructed by public subscription, which paid for the 70 foot tower, 16 feet square at the base, built of reinforced concrete covered with Baltimore granite, and the original and largest 14 of the current 49 bells, then cast by Meneely Bell Foundry of Watervliet, New York.
The instrument was enlarged and became a true carillon (although, it has always been called a carillon) in 1966, with the addition of 9 additional Eijsbouts bells and a mechanical keyboard of batons and pedals from the Netherlands.
In 1995, in celebration of the city’s 250th birthday, a renovation and expansion with a new keyboard, frame and clappers, and 26 new bells from Petit & Fritsen Bell Foundry, also of the Netherlands was installed, bringing the instrument to its current size of 49 bells, the largest instrument, by number of bells, of the three carillons in Maryland.
The carillon also acts as the city’s clock (although it has no face), automatically chiming the “Cambridge Quarters” or Westminster Chime, each 15 minutes daily from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (starts 9:00 a.m. on weekends), with the hour bell being our bourdon, or largest bell of 3,400 pounds of bronze, the largest bell in Frederick County.
John Widmann, City Carillonneur, plays recitals on each Sunday, year ’round, at 12:30 – 1:00 p.m, and on special occasions, including the Candlelight Tour of Houses of Worship (on the first business day after Christmas), after the City’s Festival of Lights Ceremony in December, after the Kris Kringle Procession, also in December, New Year’s Eve at Midnight and after the annual Independence Day fireworks on July 4th each year.
The City of Frederick recently produced a video describing the history of the carillon. Please enjoy that video here:
“The Jewel in Frederick’s crown.”Deane Price