LUNADA BAY CARILLON BELLS UNITE A COMMUNITY
The Lunada Bay Elementary School Bell Tower is a very special and unique landmark on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. It was part of the original school architecture, and was completed in 1957, shortly after the school opened. The original carillon bells were donated by Oliver and Ruby Fields who lived on Espinosa Circle. Lunada Bay was, and still may be, the only elementary school in the nation with a carillon. Over the years, however, the tower and chimes ran into great disrepair.
In September of 2000, Lunada Bay’s fifth grade class proposed to restore the bell tower as its gift to the school at graduation in celebration of six years of learning. With full support from the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District (PVPUSD) and the Lunada Bay School principal, the class proceeded with the project. The scope of the project included re-facing the exterior of the tower, adding a dolphin sculpture to the front and seating around the base, installing a new electronic bell system (carillon), and re-landscaping the surrounding area. Every aspect of the project was fully coordinated with PVPUSD to assure that all necessary approvals and permits were obtained. The new chimes were installed in August 2001, just in time to welcome students back to Lunada Bay on the first day of school. Construction was completed in September and the restored tower was dedicated on October 14, 2001. Over 300 people, including representatives of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District Board of Education and the Palos Verdes Estates City Council, attended the dedication ceremony.
The graduating class of 2001 sponsored numerous fund-raising activities throughout the school year to help raise money for the project. Over 250 residents and businesses also donated their time, money, and services to help the students restore this community landmark. In addition, PVPUSD provided valuable assistance by: locating and evaluating the original blueprints of the bell tower, coordinating the required structural analysis and report, obtaining all necessary local and state approvals, performing electrical tasks, professionally pruning the large trees surrounding the tower, removing shrubs and cultivating for planting, and installing irrigation.
Without question, the bell tower restoration was a community project in every way. Sunday, September 30, 2007: Lunada Bay celebrated its 50th anniversary on this date.