Brownell Memorial Park & Carillon Tower
Location: 3359 State Route 70, Morgan City, LA 70380 (1/2 mile from Lake End Park)
The Brownell Memorial Park and Campanile is the gift of Mrs. Claire Horatio Brownell, a member of one of Louisiana's pioneer families.
Mrs. Brownell was always devoted to the land which contributed so much to her family's comfort and welfare. In order to show her gratefulness, she conceived the idea of perpetuating the serenity, beauty and abundance of the swamp through development of a quiet park, native to the area. It was her wish that the park be a nondenominational setting retaining its wild atmosphere, where a person might retreat to commune with God.
The 9.5 acre park shows the many various plants and trees that grow abundantly wild along the ridges of these swamps - palmettos, elephant ears, cattails, fern, many varieties of iris and other flowers, moss-laden oaks, berry vines, cypress, and tupelo.
The Carillon Tower
Because of her aroused interest in musical bells, Mrs. Brownell elected to install a carillon as a focal point of the park. Rising to a height of 106 feet above its base, the carillon tower, with its smooth, simple lines, stands in elegant contrast to its "pure nature" surroundings. The all-welded steel-and-concrete tower houses one of the world's largest and finest cast-bell carillons. The 61 bronze bells, which were cast in Holland, represent five full octaves and range in weight from 18 pounds to 4730 pounds. Each bell is simply embellished with a band of ivy vines around the crown. The largest (bourdon) bell contains the inscription:
This Carillon Given by Mrs. Claire H. Brownell,
In Loving Memory of Her Parents,
Charles Horace Brownell and
Frances Pierson Brownell.
Verses of the Twenty-Third Psalm are engraved on the next largest 13 bells.
The Story of Carillons
In 1950, near Anyang, China, archeologists uncovered bells that had been cast during the Chinese Bronze Age which dates back 4,000 years. The "modern" carillon, dating back to the beginning of the sixteenth century, is an instrument comprised of at least twenty-five chromatically tuned bronze bells played manually by means of a console called a clavier.
The bells are usually suspended in a steel frame adapted to the belfry for which the carillon is intended. Each bell's clapper is connected by a linkage of wires and tumblers to levers on the clavier. By striking appropriate levers, the carillonneur can ring any bell he desires. Thus, with a full chromatic range of bells, any melody may be played.
Carillon bells are cast from pure bronze and are tuned to 1/100th of a half tone. Pouring and tuning a musical bell is a highly refined art. A musical bell is in itself a symphony, having a strike tone, a hum tone, an overtone, and two partials - a tierce and a fifth. All five tones must be in exact harmony, and each bell chromatically tuned with others of the carillon.
Tones of bells are determined by material, shape, and weight. The first two factors have more or less become standardized by individual bell founders. Final tning is therefore directly related to weight (wall thickness). In tuning, excess material is removed from inside the bell at just the right place in just the right amounts, else the bell is ruined and must be recast. Tuning is done by hand-milling in conjunction with aid of tuning forms and electronic equipment.