‘Iconic’ tourist attraction to be repaired

City hires contractor to fix exterior of Carroll Chimes Bell Tower

COVINGTON, Ky. – When the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau was created back in the ’70s, the Carroll Chimes Bell Tower in MainStrasse Village was its logo, and a lapel pin featuring its likeness was worn by all CVB employees.

The tourism bureau is now known as “meetNKY,” but the Bell Tower – and its image – remains a familiar “icon” in the region.

“The Carroll Chimes Bell Tower has always been an important attraction that draws people to Covington,” said Julie Kirkpatrick, meetNKY president & CEO. “It is an icon of Covington. Thousands of visitors yearly make it a part of their NKY experience.”

That icon – aging though it is – is about to get needed attention.

To maintain the tower’s architectural integrity and functionality, the City of Covington will use federal grant funds (from the Community Development Block Grant program) to pay for repairs to the tower’s exterior. Last month the Covington Board of Commissioners awarded a contract for $109,450.65 to Bryant Hartke Construction to carry out the work.

It’s scheduled to begin in August.

“The work undertaken with this phase of repairs will stabilize the tower’s exterior,” explained City Neighborhood Services Director Brandon Holmes, who added that, in recent months, he’d received numerous calls from residents inquiring about the Bell Tower.

“Fortunately, the City is able to proceed with making the investment needed for structural repairs now,” he said.

A partial list of the repairs to be performed on the tower suggest both the ravages of the weather and the attention to detail that will be required to overcome that damage:

  • Installing a copper rain table, with all seams hand-soldered.
  • Replacing the counter flashing on the copper roofs.
  • Grinding & tuck-pointing open or cracked mortar joints.
  • Installing new European 18 oz. copper half-round gutters where needed, complete with new 4” round aluminum downspouts.
  • Removing and rebuilding four rowlock pier caps.
  • Replacing wood on the cupola as needed.
  • Repairing or replacing wood timber as needed on the upper clock tower.
  • Rebuilding the double rowlock ban on all four sides.
  • Pressure-washing and waterproofing the entire Bell Tower.

Holmes said repairs to the chimes, puppets, glockenspiel, and internal parts will be undertaken during a future phase.

Bill Matteoli, assistant project manager with the City’s Public Works Department, said the Bell Tower won’t look much different when repairs are completed, but it will be in better condition.

A governor & the Brothers Grimm

Affectionately known as the Pied Piper Tower, the Carroll Chimes Bell Tower is a 100-foot-tall, 43-bell carillon set in a German Gothic clock. It was named after Kentucky Gov. Julian Carroll. The tower was completed in 1979, adding Old World charm to MainStrasse Village.

From April through October, as the tower chimes on the hour, mechanical figures would move onto its balcony to act out the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a tale shaped many times over by the likes of the Grimm Brothers, Robert Browning, and others.

Kirkpatrick said that meetNKY still features the tower as one of its emblematic images of Covington.

“We still showcase the Tower (our history and roots) as one of the emblematic images of Covington, along with the span of the Roebling Bridge (our connection), the distillation tower at New Riff (our future), and the Florence Y’All Water Tower (our quirky and cheeky side),” said Kirkpatrick. “These are our icons that show off the NKY pride.”

Future work

As for internal repairs, which can be expensive, Holmes said the City will look to tap into the private sector for contributions to aid with those efforts. He said anyone interested in donating to those efforts can learn more by contacting him at or (859) 292-2164.


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