With a steeple on the way, Cathedral will hold a Ball of the Bells

CHARLESTON — A new sound will be heard across the rooftops of Charleston when the central church of the diocese adds bells to its tower.

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist will purchase three bells for its soon-to-be-built steeple. While Father Gregory Wilson, parish administrator, has not yet selected a foundry to cast the bells, he said they are planning for a three-bell peal in E, G sharp and B.

“The E should be the lowest in our area to compliment the scale around the city,” Father Wilson said. “It will give the soundscape of Charleston a unique signature.”

Only a few foundries exist in the United States, and each bell is handcrafted and cast specifically for the purchaser. They are memorialized with raised lettering.

The bells of St. John the Baptist will weigh approximately 2,300 pounds, 1,200 pounds and 700 pounds respectively. The largest Cathedral bell will be nearly 50 inches in diameter and made out of bronze, a combination of copper and tin. The instruments are tuned with a tuning fork and digital equipment, and will be rung electronically.

The massive instruments will be hoisted by crane to the steeple as the structure is being built.

“We hope to have the steeple finished by May,” Father Wilson said. “Work will start in the next few weeks.”

The steeple will be constructed of brownstone and copper. It was designed by Glenn Keyes Architects and will be built by Hightower Construction. The tower will provide a new peak in the landscape and the bells, according to Father Wilson, a new reminder.

“For centuries, bells have marked our joys and our sorrows,” he said. “As bells mark the hours and events of life, we are reminded that time is a gift from God. It is not given to be wasted.”

One of the ways the parish will raise funds for the new addition will be through the Ball of the Bells.  
“We’re very excited about the ball and hope many people around the diocese will come,” said Father Wilson. “The Cathedral is more than a parish. It represents the unity of the whole diocese under the spiritual leadership of the successor to the apostles, the bishop. We hope that all the people of the diocese will feel welcome and join us for this wonderful celebration.”

The gala event will feature food, beverages and a show band, The Fantastic Shakers. Tickets, which will have a picture of the Cathedral with its steeple, will be sent out to each church in the state so people may purchase them directly at their parishes.

Bobby Jones, a member of the planning committee, said they are hoping 1,500 people will come to the event. They already have food commitments from Charleston Place, Harbor Resort, Oak Steakhouse and McCrady’s Restaurant.

The black tie optional ball will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 22 in the Charleston Visitor Center at 375 Meeting St. The cost is $100 per person. Tickets will be available at the Pauline Books and Media Center, 243 King St.

For more information
contact Bobby Jones at (843) 200-7549 or
Mary Elizabeth Bennett at (843) 224-2188
or maryeliz@bellsouth.net.