History of the Bells

“Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, are seen in me, do and the peace of God shall be with you” – Philippians 4:19


The Ferree Memorial Chimes (Carillonic Bells) were originally installed December 19,1992 when the African Episcopal Church of Saint Thomas was located at 52nd and Paris Streets in Philadelphia.  The bells were presented by Annie D. Ferree (AD 1951) in loving memory of Samuel T. Ferree, Annie A. Ferree and Barr Ferree.

 When St. Thomas moved to 6361 Lancaster Avenue (formerly St. Paul Memorial Church), the Carillonic Bells and rolls of music were moved to the new church home.  Upon relocation, however, the bells would not play.  All attempts to get repair service failed, because there were neither parts nor an operations manual available for a Carillonic Bells system that was over fifty years old.

Thanks to the extraordinary dedication, trial-and-error, research and skill of Oliver D. Archer, Sr. and his son Vincent, they eventually got the bells to chime.  On November 24, 2000, after spending weeks building a power supply for the pre-amp 6SJ7 tube, adding a power amplifier and a speaker in the lower sacristy, fixing some relays and wiring,  they were able to get the Carillonic Bells to play. At that time, the bells could be heard in the nave of the church when the doors were opened in the lower sacristy. The bells were first heard in the church on Christmas Eve 2000. Many members did not know what they were hearing and thought it was a part of the organ. As Vincent and Oliver continued working on the bells, they noticed a large clock mounted on the wall above the brown console for the bells.  Surprisingly, this clock was for controlling and playing the Westminster Bells through the Carillonic Bell system.  They programmed the Westminster Bells to ring at 12 noon and 6 PM each day striking the number of times of the hour.  The Carillonic Bells can now be heard in the nave and outside in the neighborhood. They are also played before and after church services, funerals and weddings.



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