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New bell tower being installed at First Baptist Church

Dedication recital set for Nov. 7
First Baptist Church bell tower installed today
Posted at 12:43 PM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 19:29:45-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The third-largest bell tower in Texas is being assembled at First Baptist Church on Ocean Drive.

“I think it’s wonderful," said Joe Frazer, president of Corpus Christi Bell Tower Foundation. "We’ve been waiting seven years to create the funds to get it back up and bring it back up to its glory."

Installation of the tower began Friday morning. A roadblock in the plan caused worked to stop early in the afternoon. The assembling of the tower in place will pick back up on Saturday morning.

It will replace the original Glasscock Memorial Carillon that was originally built in 1976. Playing of the carillon was ceased in 2002 when a bell fell from the tower after a recital. It was due to corrosion of the frame that the bell fell. The heat, humidity and salty air are what wore down the tower.

“The bells were sent back to Cincinnati, Ohio, and they were polished up..." said Loyd Lott, the first and current carillonneur for First Baptist Church. "They built the new frame out of stainless steel. The old frame in (1976) was not stainless steel and that’s why we had so much corrosion.”

The tower was taken down in 2015 and church members decided to have it rebuilt. And after years of fundraising and planning, a new one was made to withstand South Texas conditions. The construction crew assembling the new tower said the project cost around $500,000.

"The whole community has actually helped us through this whole process," Frazer said. "We’ve had a lot of donations from a lot of churches, a lot of people, not just beside the people here in our church...

"They’ve asked me many a time, ‘When’s it going to happen? When’s it going to happen?’ So now we’ve told them when it’s going to happen. So, everyone’s pretty happy about it.”

The bell was built in Cincinnati and trucked to Corpus Christi. There are 51 bells, the largest weighing 2,109 lbs and the smallest bell weighing 19 lbs. Frazer said the tower won't stand as tall as the first one and will be about 30 feet into the air.

Cranes were brought in to help assemble the new tower.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 3. A dedication recital will take place on Nov. 7.