By Gail Fornasiere,
Catalina Island Museum,Director of Marketing & Public Relations
MARCH 28, 2017, AVALON, CATALINA ISLAND – Visitors to Catalina Island often notice the melodic sounds of chimes wafting over Avalon every quarter hour. The Chimes of Avalon were a gift to the community from William Wrigley Jr.’s wife Ada. Next week an exhibition about the history of the chimes will be added to the Catalina Island Museum’s history galleries.
In 1925 Mr. and Mrs. Wrigley purchased the chimes directly from inventor and manufacturer J.C. Deagan of Chicago. Mr. Deagan and his wife traveled to the island to be present the first time the chimes rang out over Avalon in March of 1926.
The Chimes of Avalon are housed within a custom Spanish-style tower on a platform with terraced walls above Avalon’s iconic Casino building. Twenty cylindrical bells – the largest of which is 13 feet in length – hang inside the tower. An automated clock continues to sound the Westminster melody at the top of the hour, the quarter-hour, the half-hour, and three-quarter-hour. Originally the chimes were wired to the steamer pier where a keyboardist charmed the bustling crowds with songs like “Aloha.” Today, and since 1967, Avalon resident Jani Eisenhut plays the chimes on special occasions and holidays. When the Chicago Cubs won the World Series this past November, Eisenhut played a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
In conjunction with the opening of the new exhibition, the Catalina Chimes Tower Foundation has invited the community to attend a special Bells & Whistles event at the museum. The foundation will share its progress on the Chimes Tower restoration and answer questions. The event will take place on Wednesday, April 5, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the second level of the Catalina Island Museum. More information about this event can be found at CatalinaChimes.org.
The Catalina Island Museum offers the best in art and history exhibitions, music and dance performances, lectures by guest speakers from all over the world, and the finest in silent, documentary and international film. Open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, the new Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building is located in the heart of Avalon at 217 Metropole Avenue. For more information, the museum may be reached by phone at 310-510-2414 or at its website: CatalinaMuseum.org.