Excerpts from the blogs of Inquirer critics.

Posted: February 07, 2013

Bong, bong: Founder's Bell tolls a bit; help's on the way

From "ArtsWatch," the blog of Inquirer music critic Peter Dobrin, at

If you think you heard the ailing Founder's Bell around midday Wednesday, you're not imagining it. Building managers at One South Broad Street have succeeded in getting the 17-ton bell to sound, but just once or a few tolls at a time. They're still working on getting it to ring the proper number of times each hour.

At noon Wednesday I think I heard its low D ring five times. "It's a work in progress," said David C. McFarland, property manager for KTR Management Services.

Tuesday's article about the silenced bell brought out two offers of help, McFarland said. One call was from Curt Mangel III, curator of the Wanamaker Organ in the Grand Court at Macy's. The other was from Verdin Bells & Clocks, which has a history of working with this bell.

Verdin's Doug Gefvert, sales representative for the area, says he suspects the mechanism that controls when the hammer strikes the bell has gone bad. "It's like it's having a stroke," he says of the intermittent peals. Repairmen expect to inspect the bell and its various mechanisms in the next few days, perhaps building a new controller at Verdin's Cincinnati headquarters.

"This is a huge piece of equipment," Gefvert said. "It's not the type of thing you carry around in your truck."

Contact Peter Dobrin at 215-854-5611 or

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