Source: The News-Journal, March 30, 1936


A chapel and memorial tower are to be built at the Estelle Peabody Memorial home this summer by T.A. Peabody as a memorial to his parents, James B. and Estelle Peabody. Contract will be let in the next two weeks, the bids being private. The plans call for a chapel building approximately 56x128 feet to the north of the Memorial home. It will be of colonial style with a spire 96 feet high. In it will be the chapel auditorium where services of various kinds will be held. A covered passageway above ground will connect the chapel with the Memorial home, so the residents of the Home need not go out of doors to go to the building.

The Memorial tower will be directly east of the chapel near the east side of the Home ground. This tower will be 110 feet high and of hexagonal shape. It will be built of Bedford stone, brick and bronze, while the chapel building will be of material similar to that used in the Home. A large pipe organ will be in the chapel, and some seats will be equipped with ear phones for aged people.

An underground cable will connect the chapel and tower, and in the top of the tower will be amplifying equipment that will broadcast sound in the community. Thus music, speaking or other services of general interest, by means of a microphone in the chapel, can be broadcast over a considerable area. Similarly radio broadcasts, or even music from phonograph records can be heard through the amplifiers.

This system will not be in daily use. Mr. Peabody plans for it to be used on occasions such as Christmas, Easter and similar occasions, or when something of note and general community interest is being given, either in the chapel or by radio broadcast.

Mr. Peabody has been working on plans for the chapel and tower for a year or more. He got the idea of the tower from the Bok Singing Tower in Florida, which was described last Thursday by W.E. Billings in his column, "Rambling Stories." [see article below] The Bok tower has 71 bells, but was built before radio broadcasting and sound amplifiers were known. Starting with this idea, Mr. Peabody during the past year investigated various sound amplifying systems, and then turned his ideas to the architect, Charles R. Weatherhogg of Fort Wayne, to put into practical form. Mr. Weatherhogg completed the plans a few days ago, and contractors have now been asked to submit bids.

It is hard to conceive a more lasting or fitting memorial than Mr. Peabody has planned. Not only will it be of service and use to the aged people in the home, but it will be so arranged the entire community may receive pleasure and benefit from it. And when the improvement is completed, there will not be another like it in the United States.

Source: W.E. Billings, "Bok Tower," The News-Journal, March 26, 1936

Rambling Stories--Bok Tower

About every one who comes to Florida feels that it is a duty to go to the Bok Singing Tower, possibly so they can tell the folks at home they have been there. But it is a pretty place, and the music from the bells is good. Tower literature claim it is on the highest point in Florida, but this is to be questioned, for there is a government marker set in one of J.J. Wolfe's orange groves on Sugar Loaf mountain at Howey-in-the-Hills that says it is 32 feet higher than the Bok location. But be that as it may. What is 32 feet anyway? Unless the water should get too high. The Bok tower is in a garden on the hill, and the hill is surrounded by the biggest citrus orchard of the state that is under one ownership--2,600 acres. Around the tower all of the natural beauties have been preserved, and have been improved upon by man--for men with ideas and plenty of money to give them form can help Nature be beautiful. The tower and its surroundings are a gift to the world from Edward W. Bok, for many years connected with the Saturday Evening Post; and whose body rests at the foot of the tower. It is 205 feet above the foundation, and is of Georgia marble. There are 71 bells in the carillion, the smallest twelve pounds and the largest eleven tons. The total weight of all the bells being 123,264 pounds. While the music of the bells, played as they are by a master hand, is impressive and beautiful, yet the average visitor will be more impressed by the beauties he can see than by those he hears. The hilltop is a mass of blossom, of white, pink and red; from the pools of water come reflections of the tower; thousands of birds flit from tree to tree in happy security; on all sides may be seen orange trees just now bursting into full blossom. The tower is about a mile from Lake Wales.

Source: The News-Journal, April 30, 1936


Contracts were let Tuesday for the greater part of the work on the memorial Chapel and Tower to be erected this summer by Thomas A. Peabody at the Estelle Peabody Memorial Home. These contracts include all parts of the work excepting the electrical amplification, and the landscaping. Contracts let were as follows:

General contract to the Indiana Engineering & Construction company of Fort Wayne.

Plumbing and heating to A.J. Moser & Co. of Berne

Steel work to the Bass Foundry & Machine Works of Fort Wayne.

Electrical wiring to C.E. Ruppel, North Manchester.

Pipe organ to A.G. Gottfried Company, Erie, Pennsylvania.

Bronze work to the Frank Schmool Metal Products company of Mount Vernon, New York.

The total amount involved in these contracts is $120,000.

Mr. Peabody says that in every case the contract was let to the lowest bidder, so no favoritism was made. The general contract and the plumbing and heating both went to firms that have recently done work on the extension of the present Estelle Peabody Memorial Home. Before letting the amplification contract Mr. Peabody will make some more investigation of various types of amplifiers.

Work is to commence at once on the general contract.

Source: The News-Journal, June 18, 1936


The seventh week of work on the chapel and tower at the Estelle Peabody Memorial Home finds the chapel walls well toward half done, the foundation for the tower in place and ready for the stone, and the furnace and smoke stack in place. The work is under the direction of George Sprunger as construction foreman for the Indiana Engineering company of Fort Wayne.

Just now most of the work is brick laying, and that goes a bit slow, for the walls are being laid in what is known as Flemish bond, the same as the walls of the main buildings of the home. In Flemish bond the bricks are so laid that the end of each alternate brick is exposed. The work is slower, but the wall is prettier. As soon as the wall reaches the height for the roof more workmen can be added. Then will come the roof and the interior, and still bigger force of men can be employed. Some of the brick masons will go from the chapel building to the amplifier tower, but an experienced stone setter will have charge of the stone work. Some of the stone is already on the ground, and more coming.

The spire of the chapel will be only a little lower than the tower. The tower will be 110 feet above the foundation, while the top of the spire will be 96 feet, or about sixty feet above the roof.

Mr. Sprunger says he likes to work in North Manchester, that the work is moving along well, and that the working conditions are pleasant. Before coming here he had put up a building for the International Harvester company, right where they were testing tractors, and other noisy machinery. The noise continued from morning to night, never getting any less, but always seeming to increase. It was a relief to get where one could hear what fellow workmen had to say.

Source: The News-Journal, December 21, 1936


A large pipe organ at the Estelle Peabody Memorial Home Chapel will be ready for use within a few days. Workmen have been here for two or three weeks installing the organ, and for the past few days A. Gottfried, head of the organ company from Erie, Pennsylvania, has been here, voicing the organ as they call it--that is doing the final work of tuning the pipes. The organ is one of the best made by this company, and the company is considered one of the best, if not the best in the United States, so North Manchester people will not be disappointed. It is a combination electric and pneumatic organ--that is touching a key establishes an electric contact which in turn releases just the proper amount of air from the compression chamber, which in turn rushes through the pipes producing the desired tone. From the three key boards, wires lead to hundreds of pipes, whistles or do-jiggers that give out the tone wanted, and just at the time it is wanted. There are possibly a thousand pipes or sound producers of one kind or another, ranging from what looks like a child's whistle a couple of inches longer to what resembles a stove pipe sixteen feet long. These are all hidden back in the interior of the organ, but are even more important than the showily decorated pipes that one sees, and so many think make up the whole organ. It's really the part that you don't see that does the most to produce the music.

Mr. Gottfried tells that a few years ago the head of an organ committee for a big church insisted that he should see the organ after it was completed and before it was shipped to the church. He was shown the console, the keyboards, the stops, and the big decorated pipes, and seemed fully satisfied. Mr. Gottfried said, "Do you not want to see the inside?" and the organ committeeman exclaimed: "Why I thought this was all there was to it."

Since 1888 Mr. Gottfried has been building organs in the United States, and before that built organs in Germany. For two years he operated a factory in Philadelphia, and then removed to Erie. He is both a mechanic, and has an ear for tone, both essentials to successful organs. In his establishment now he has two sons, one an expert mechanic, and the other a master of tone, but despite his seventy or more years senior member of the firm still delights in "voicing" the organs as they are erected.

The organ being erected here is of even more than usual scope, being what is known as unified organ, having a large number of combinations by which the same keys or pipes are made to produce different tones. There is the flute, the open diapason, oboe, vox humana, clarinet, harp, and others besides the tubular chimes.

The organ will be ready for use in a day or so, but it is not the intention to give a special recital at this time. Work on the tower and amplifying system is now at a standstill, and will not be resumed until after the middle of March. The hope had been to have all in readiness for use by Christmas, but delays were experienced in getting materials.

Source: Wabash Plain Dealer, July 31, 2010


As a Peabody Retirement Community resident for over 25 years, Betty Krom frequently walked around or gazed at the campus' historic Peabody Singing Tower, which looms over the 33 acre campus

Over this period Krom has developed a very strong and viable sense of community and passion for the place she calls home. With this passion, she recently directed a $150,000 gift to Peabody to renovate the tower.

"Peabody has been a wonderful blessing to me and my family," Krom said. "I have spent many years walking and enjoying this campus and I am glad I am able to make a gift to bless the community that has blessed me!"

The Krom family made a decision to return that blessing years ago by leaving Peabody in their will. But a recent diagnosis of terminal cancer led to her changing the bequest to an immediate outright gift. Because of this gift, The Peabody Tower will be receiving some much needed repairs--with Krom enjoying the show.

The 100-foot Peabody tower was constructed in 1937 and is designed after the 205-foot high Bok tower located in Lake Wales, Fla., as well as a similar tower in Austria. Peabody's tower offers pre-programmed bells and music to play. In addition, Peabody family members are interned on the lower level.

The tower was inspected in 2009 and was noted structurally sound.

Tower renovation is slated to begin after the first of September.

Source: The News-Journal, April 1, 1937


This summer will see the fulfillment of a dream that Thomas Peabody has cherished for several years when the Estelle Peabody Memorial Home will be doubled in capacity. Another building is to be erected north of the Chapel building, of the same size and arrangement as the present Home building. This is to be erected by Mr. Peabody as a memorial to his father, James B. Peabody, who for years was head of the Peabody School Furniture Company, later the Peabody Seating Company.

Plans and specifications for this addition have been prepared by Charles A. Weatherhogg of Fort Wayne, and were submitted to the trustees of the Home at a meeting Tuesday. The trustees approved the plans, and bids will be asked within a very few days, the intention being to get the work under progress at once.

The building will be constructed, completed, furnished and made ready for occupancy under the direction of Mr. Peabody, and will be turned to the trustees and the Indiana Presbyterian Synod ready for use in every way. The estimated cost will be about $250,000. A condition of the contract will be that local labor be used when at all possible.

The original Estelle Peabody Memorial Home was erected by James B. Peabody in memory of Mrs. Peabody, who had passed away some time before, and was opened for use in the spring of 1931. Later on an additional wing, providing for hospital conveniences was added. While James B. Peabody financed the building, the work of construction was at all times under the direction of Thomas A. Peabody, or "Tom", as North Manchester universally calls him.

A little over a year ago Tom conceived the idea of an amplifying tower, and a chapel. These are nearly completed, and will be finished within a few weeks. In the chapel is a large pipe organ, and arrangements are to be made so music from this may be broadcast from the tower. The lower rooms of the tower furnish a resting place for Mr. and Mrs. James B. Peabody, their bodies being placed therein last fall. The tower erected by the son thus forms a suitable memorial for those worthy people who considered North Manchester their home, and who in so many ways have contributed to the welfare of the community.

When Mr. Peabody, Sr., conceived the idea of his home for old folks he found the Presbyterian Synod of Indiana was considering a home of this character. The Synod accepted his plans, and took charge of the Home after it was completed. First the space provided was for about fifty members. later it was increased to eighty. The new addition will fully double the capacity. While the home is under the direction of the Presbyterian church, yet it is absolutely non-sectarian so far as admission is concerned. The appointments and conveniences are in every way the best that can be provided. It is more like a high grade family hotel than the ordinary institution of this character. No effort is spared to make for the comfort of the members of the home family, and in every way it is a reflection of the kindly spirit of the people who have made the place possible.

Management of the Home is under the direct control of Dr. and Mrs. Alexander Sharp, who for a number of years have filled this position with ability and with tact, looking after the welfare of the members of the Home family, and contributing as well as the community life of North Manchester.

In round figures when the buildings now planned are completed the Home will represent an outlay of over $650,000, each of the two wings representing about $250,000, and the chapel and the tower another $150,000. The grounds are the old North Manchester fair grounds, and have been landscaped to provide an attractive setting for the buildings.

Source: The News-Journal, April 29, 1937


Contracts for the new building at the Estelle Peabody Memorial Home were let Tuesday. The general contract was let to Rump-Kintz Company of Fort Wayne. Plumbing and heating contract went to the Industrial Plumbing & Heating Company of Fort Wayne. C.E. Ruppel of North Manchester received the wiring contract. The amounts of each bid were not made public, but the total cost of the building completely equipped, will amount to about $250,000. A stipulation in the contracts is that material will be purchased as much as possible in North Manchester, and that local labor will be employed where possible. Considerable skilled labor will of necessity be brought from other places. Work will commence as soon as possible, but it will take a few days for the contractors to purchase material and obtain delivery.

The new building will be to the north of the chapel building that was built last year, and will be a duplicate in size and appearance of the original Home building. The first building was opened for use in 1931. It was erected by the late James B. Peabody, father of T.A. Peabody, in memory of his wife, Mrs. Estelle Peabody. Last year in addition to the chapel building, T.A. Peabody, or "Tom", as he is universally known, built a beautiful memorial tower in memory of his parents. This tower is to the east of the Home buildings and is the final resting place for his parents. In arranging for the new unit, Mr. Peabody is carrying out a plan he has had for several years, and in a sense is enlarging a noble enterprise started by his father.

Source: The News-Journal, January 17, 1938


The new unit of the Estelle Peabody Memorial Home was opened today and some of the new members are already here. Work on the building started early last spring and while the actual construction has been finished for some time, there was much to be done installing fixtures and furniture before it was ready to use. By Saturday everything was in readiness, and today the new members are allowed to come.

The new unit will be known as the James B. Peabody Memorial, and in the reception room is a large life size likeness of Mr. Peabody, painted by a California artist who had known Mr. Peabody during his lifetime. While the new building is dedicated to Mr. Peabody, the institution is incorporated and will continue to be known as the Estelle Peabody Memorial Home. This is entirely fitting as Mr. Peabody founded the Home and furnished the means for the first building as a memorial to Mrs. Peabody. The management was placed under the direction of the Presbyterian church, but is entirely non-sectarian so far as qualifications for admittance is concerned.

Complete of the new building is the fulfillment of a noble idea well carried on by the son, T.A. Peabody. It completes the symmetry of the institution for now the Memorial Chapel is in the center of the two Home buildings, and to the front and in the center is the Memorial Tower where rests the bodies of the parents. In the spring new drives and walkways will be guilt, and additional shrubbery planted. Although there is something always to be done in improving such a place, it would seem that the present plant is as complete as it is possible to make it.

The new home will care for about eighty members, the number depending somewhat on whether they come in couples or singly.

The entire arrangement has been with one thought in mind--that of convenience and comfort of aged people. Both buildings have elevators.

An enclosed walkway connects both Home Buildings with the chapel. This building, as large as many churches, is used for religious services and for entertainments. From the chapel may be broadcast music and other features through the large amplifiers on top of the Memorial tower. There is a public address system in the chapel, and speakers use a microphone the same as regular broadcasting stations. At a number of the seats are plugs and dials equipped with ear phones making it possible for deaf people to hear. A fine pipe organ is another feature of the equipment.

The new building will be under the direct charge of Miss Zora Gates. She comes to North Manchester from Knightstown, where she had been at the Soldiers and Sailors' Orphan Home. She had charge of fifty girls, and this is experienced in large institutions. She will be under the general direction of Superintendent Alexander Sharp. Other employees are mostly local people.

The question is frequently asked, "what has been the cost?" It is nearly a million dollars. Included in this is about $400,000 endowment, part coming from the Peabody family, and part from admission fees and other receipts. Were it not for this large endowment fund it would be impossible to maintain the Home on the present high standard, for admission fees are only about enough to defray the cost of caring for a person for three years.

North Manchester takes just pride in having such an institution in its midst. It would be a credit to any large city, and in fact there is not a duplicate of the Memorial Home any place in the country. Visitors are impressed not only by the size and general scope of the buildings, but also by the thoughtful and complete way it has been furnished and equipped. Much of this is due to the careful planning and attention to details given by Mr. Peabody. It has taken much of his time during the last few years, and he can justly look on it as a task well done.

[Included in article is Architect's Drawing of Estelle Peabody Memorial Home.]