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Carillon Tower (Virginia War Memorial Tower)

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Virginia War Memorial Tower
1931–1932, Cram and Ferguson, and Carneal, Johnston and Wright. Byrd Park

A mania for memorials followed the conclusion of World War I, and Virginia was not immune. Philadelphia architect Paul P. Cret, in association with Marcellus E. Wright of Richmond, won the local competition 1925. Cret's design for a Moderne screen of columns met with some criticism, but construction started in 1926, only to be halted after three months. Instead, a citizens' committee started to raise funds for a carillon tower. Carillons became very popular in the 1920s, and a number were erected across the country. Discarding the original competition results and deciding against holding a new one, the War Memorial Commission chose Cram and Ferguson of Boston and local architects Carneal, Johnston and Wright to design a tall carillon. Cram, who was well known in Richmond for his work at the University of Richmond (see entry, below), took the leading role in designing a 200-foot-tall carillon in a Georgian Revival idiom. A steel frame was encased in red brick with light-colored sandstone trim. At the base was a large plaza for public gatherings. The base itself was to house a museum of war relics. Promotional literature stressed that the bells could be heard for “400 square miles,” and that they would play “the soldier's old songs … the National Anthem … the hymn General Lee liked.” It was dedicated at a great ceremony in 1932.

The three-block area bordered by Byrd Park, Maymont, Westover, and Spottswood roads contains numerous examples of urban villas and speculative developments that rival those of Monument Avenue.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Carillon Tower (Virginia War Memorial Tower)", [Richmond, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 266-267.

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