The Carillon

In 1969, members of the White Plains Beautification Foundation traveled at their own expense to visit eight cities in five countries in Europe to gather ideas to enhance their own city and to have input into decisions which would affect the look of White Plains in the future. One of their discoveries was made in Amsterdam when they heard bells playing from the Royal Palace. They learned that the music was produced by a Schulmerich carillon (pronounced kar-i-lon) made in the United States in Pennsylvania. A carillon is a set of stationary bells hung in a tower which plays music at regular intervals. The Schulmerich Company is the world‘s largest producer of carillons and bells and one of only four producers of hand bells in the world. The Schulmerich Carillon, which today is an electronic device, has the equivalent of 111 bells.

When Westchester County began construction of the courthouse over 35 years ago, WPBF set out to install a carillon in the top story of the building in the hopes of enhancing the lives of local residents and emulate some of the great and prestigious public squares one sees around Europe. It took five years of fundraising and $25,000 to purchase the carillon which the foundation then donated to the County. It was dedicated November 22, 1974. The foundation also purchased a Schulmerich console, and a short concert was presented by John Klein, an eminent carilloneur.

As the years passed and technology advanced, parts for the original carillon were unavailable and so Schulmerich developed a digital carillon, a Tyme Stryke model, which was also donated to the County.

A committee of the White Plains Beautification Foundation Board chooses the selections to be played which include seasonal and patriotic pieces. The carillon also tolls for sad occasions, such as memorials, and can be programmed with up to 500 songs. Four speakers on the roof of the courthouse broadcast the chimes, Westminster time-strike, and concerts.