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Auburn unveils tower plan to display bells from St. Louis Church

The tower, which will stand at 40 feet, 9 inches, will anchor the New Auburn Village Center Plan, a multiple-phase improvement plan focusing on the riverfront between Mill and Broad Streets. 

The Bells of St. Louis Committee recently hosted a “Celebration and Fundraising Kick-Off” at New Auburn’s Anniversary Park. Those attending were able to view the site of a new tower that will serve as the permanent home for the four bells that, for nearly a century, graced the neighborhood’s former St. Louis Church.

“This tower will be the second-tallest monument in Maine,” said Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque. “As a true and lasting symbol of the heritage and history of Auburn, it will stand as testament to the vibrance and resurgence of our city as we head into our next 150 years.” 

The bells arrived in the city in October of 1916, shortly after being cast in the world-famous Paccard Bell Foundry of Annecy, France. Once in Auburn, they were blessed and raised skyward into the grand gothic tower of St. Louis Church, where they touched the lives of countless members of the community for generations. 

When the church was decommissioned in 2003, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland planned to sell the bells, but a small group of local citizens successfully moved to keep them. Thanks to the generosity of the community, the bells were purchased and preserved.

The tower to be erected in Anniversary Park (formerly “Little Andy” Park) is the result of an ongoing effort since they were purchased to create an appropriate way to permanently display the bells in New Auburn. The tower, which will stand at 40 feet, 9 inches, will anchor the New Auburn Village Center Plan, a multiple-phase improvement plan focusing on the riverfront between Mill and Broad Streets. 

“Our new bell tower will grace this gateway to our city for decades to come,” said Levesque. “And these historic bells that mean so much to us will ring us into the next 150 years.” 

Tax-deductible gifts in any amount are welcome to help fund the project. Commemorative bricks will be placed in Anniversary Park in honor of donors who give $1,000 or more to the campaign. All proceeds from the sale of bricks will support the project. For more information about the “Raising the Bells” campaign or to purchase a commemorative brick, see www.Auburn150.com. 

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