Beloved carillon bells return to Downtown Columbia with “Bell Tree” at Lake Kittamaqundi

May 25, 2017

One of the most beloved features of Downtown Columbia, Maryland, has returned — the carillon bells are once again ringing every 15 minutes from a structure informally known as the “Bell Tree.”

The pier at Lake Kittamaqundi was long home to a flag tower that was installed at the time of Columbia’s founding in 1967. The carillon bells were added as a gift from The Rouse Company in 1977 in celebration of the community’s 10th birthday.

However, the tower was removed in early 2010 for safety reasons; the wooden structure had deteriorated after decades of being exposed to the elements. Columbia Association (CA) had kept the bells in storage ever since then.

CA installed the “Bell Tree” this spring, completing the approximately $165,000 project to coincide with the celebration of Columbia’s 50th Birthday. A special ceremony celebrating the bells and the 50th anniversary of Columbia’s iconic People Tree will be held on Wednesday, June 21 at 5:30pm at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront.

The “Bell Tree,” an 18-foot metal structure, is meant to be an interim home for the bells until Columbia Association finds a more permanent place for them in the future.

CA continues to invest in bringing people to Lake Kittamaqundi to enjoy the beautiful scenery, exercise in nature, or take in movies and concerts in a picturesque outdoor setting. In 2014, CA completed a pathway around the perimeter of the lake, allowing pedestrians, joggers and bicyclists to travel on the 1.5-mile loop. Kennedy Gardens, which is located on the southeastern side of the lake, will host an installation featuring historical posters created by Gail Holliday, whose early creations marketed Columbia’s neighborhoods and villages in the 1960s and ‘70s.

And this year will once again bring CA’s Lakefront Summer Festival, with 23 movies and 50 concerts scheduled for nearly every night this summer at Lake Kittamaqundi. A full schedule can be found at lakefrontfestival.

About Columbia Association

Columbia Association (CA) is a nonprofit community services corporation that manages Columbia, Maryland, a planned community that is home to approximately 100,000 people and several thousand businesses — and was named the No. 1 small city to live in by Money Magazine in 2016. Additional information about CA is available at

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