Millennium Carillon History

The Millennium Carillon project began in late 1997 to permanently commemorate the arrival of the Year 2000. Thanks to a generous $1 million gift from Harold and Margaret Moser, contributions from scores of bell sponsors, private and business donors, countless hours of volunteer efforts, and a generous line of credit in the amount of $1.5 million from the City of Naperville, Phase I was dedicated in June 2000. Then, thanks to a grant of $3.3 million from Naperville's Special Events and Cultural Amenities (SECA) Fund, Moser Tower and the adjacent Visitor Center were opened to the public in July 2007.

In recognition of the Millennium Carillon project, Naperville was designated an official White House Millennium Community in 1999.

Of the approximately 600 carillons worldwide, Naperville's is the fourth largest in North America. It is referred to as a “Grand Carillon” because its 72 bells span six octaves and it is one of only a few Grand Carillons in the world. The bells were cast by the Royal Eijsbouts (eyes-bouts) Bell Foundry in The Netherlands and range in weight from ten pounds to nearly six tons with a combined weight of 32.5 tons. The 5.8 ton Captain Joseph Naper Bell (“Big Joe”) is the largest of the bells and strikes the hour daily.

The bells can be played in two different ways. Part of the bell system is controlled by a computer located in the cabin and plays automatically at 12:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. daily. The large hammers that can be seen fixed near some of the bells are used to sound the bells when the automatic playing system is engaged. A carillonneur also can play the bells manually. Many local, national, and international carillonneurs perform each summer as part of the Millennium Carillon Summer Recital Series. In addition, recitals are performed each week, all year long.