Bells Are Ringing at the Mary M. Emery Memorial Carillon

This Mariemont landmark keeps time for residents and serves as a sweet tribute to the neighborhood’s founder.

Photograph by Marlene Rounds

Inside the 100-foot-tall Mary M. Emery Memorial Carillon in Dogwood Park, Richard Watson sits at a wooden keyboard. Dong! Watson depresses the key with a karate chop–like force, producing a loud musical tone from one of the tower’s 49 bells that serenade the Mariemont community. The tower, and the powerful music produced inside, are village icons. “You set your life to those bells, and you don’t even realize that you’re doing it,” says Mary Beth York, Mariemont Preservation Foundation trustee. In 1929, the “singing tower” was completed to memorialize Mariemont’s founder, Mary M. Emery. Her sister, Isabella F. Hopkins, commissioned the tower and its initial 23 bells with the hope of “inculcating patriotism” in “the youth of Mariemont.” More than 90 years later, village members can still hear the carillonneur play the bells every Sunday and on national holidays, specifically Lindbergh’s Day, per Hopkins’s special request. A computer also plays Westminster Chimes and Vesper Hymns on a daily basis; despite this automated change, Watson continues trekking up several staircases to the keyboard chamber every Sunday, fulfilling a time-honored Mariemont tradition.

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