Historic bells return to Leaning Tower of Niles as part of $750K restoration project

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Monday, December 2, 2019
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Most of the historic bells will soon ring again at the Leaning Tower of Niles.

NILES, Ill. (WLS) -- Most of the historic bells will soon ring again at the Leaning Tower of Niles.

More than a year after their removal, the historic bells are nearly all back in place, as well as some new ones.

At half the scale of its Italian sister, the Leaning Tower of Niles promises to return to the glory its benefactor imagined when he put it up, starting in 1931.

Five bells were hoisted up top Monday, three of which are ancient bells from Italy. They're part of a $750,000 restoration project.

"Tomorrow, the plan is to come out and mount the bells in place, where they're supposed to go," said Village of Niles Streets Superintendent Tony Dati.

The bells date to the mid 1700s.

The oldest was cast in 1623 and sounds an E flat. It will be housed in a garden because it's cracked.

Chicago-based Community Bell Associates worked with the village to remove the bells in the summer of 2018 and get them fixed up back in their ancient Italian foundry.

"To keep something like this up to date and keep it restored and looking as beautiful as it does, that just shows what Niles is all about," Dati said.

Niles envisions bells playing melodies as the centerpiece of a new mixed-use development for the Grosse Pointe-Touhy-Lehigh corridor. Until two years ago, the tower belonged to the adjacent YMCA.

"It is just wonderful to have this here," said Steven Thomas, Leaning Tower YMCA resident.