Source: News-Journal, November 3, 2010
Peabody Tower Rededication Thursday
Constructed in 1937, Peabody Retirement community's Singing Memorial Tower offers a commanding presence. The 110 foot Tower is visible for several miles outside the town, especially at night when it is dramatically lighted. The Tower will be re-dedicated on Thursday, November 4th at 4 p.m.
After a five year process spearheaded by Al Schlitt, the Tower was named to the National Register of Historic Places. Al Schlitt, a local attorney and member of the Peabody Board of Trustees, worked with local historians Allan White and Cathy Wright of the Indiana Landmarks Foundation to complete the nomination for the Tower to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The application was submitted in March of 2009 and formal notice was received in August of 2010.
According to Mary Owens, Peabody's Director of Development, "The focus of the November 4th event will be to celebrate the history of the Peabody family legacy symbolized beautifully by the Tower. "In addition," Mary concluded, "The public is cordially invited to attend this program celebrating a Wabash County hallmark structure."
The Tower is the symbol of the philanthropic work of the Peabody family, whose gift of the Estelle Peabody Memorial Home is associated with the larger culture of philanthropy in the early 20th century wealthy. When Mrs. Estelle Peabody died in 1928, her husband, James sought ways to commemorate her life and worked with the Columbia City Presbyterian Church. This combined effort created a community for the aged, a relatively innovative concept at that time. Construction on the Peabody Singing Tower and Chapel began in 1936 by Thomas Peabody in memory of James and Estelle Peabody, his parents. ...
Source: Wabash Plain Dealer, November 10, 2010
Singing tower is rededicated. Structure now
listed in National Register of Historic Places.
By Sheila Rhoades
The Rev. Sue Babovec, Peabody Retirement Community chaplain, gave the dedication prayer to welcome back the restored Peabody Memorial Tower recently.
"There are five Peabodys entombed there," she said. "We stand on holy ground."
The Peabodys were a beloved North Manchester family who were well known for their philanthropy and charitable hearts.
The renovations were made possible through a $150,000 donation by the late Betty Krom, a Peabody South House resident, who had lived there for more than 25 years.
Cathy Wright, executive director of the Indiana Landmarks Foundation, went a step further.
"Peabody Seating stayed open for three days a week during the depression," she said, "just so people would have some work. They also sent furniture to San Francisco following the earthquake," she added.
But Wright was on hand for a very special announcement -- the Peabody "Singing" Tower was now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Constructed in 1937, the 110-foot tower was built by Thomas Peabody in memory of his parents, James and Estelle Peabody. Their remains were moved from Beverly Hills, Calif., to be interred in the mausoleum in the base of the tower. Over the years, Thomas, his wife, Mary M. and daughter, Mary K. Peabody were all laid to rest on the Peabody campus.
Designed after the 205-foot Bok Tower in Wales, Florida, the structure was built of limestone, brick and polished granite. It contains carillon speakers and marks the time with Westminster chimes, providing music each day at noon and 6 p.m.
An article on the Singing Tower, written by Wright, can be found in the Nov.-Dec. 2010 issue of Indiana Preservationist.
Source: The Lantern Newspaper, May 22, 1937; as quoted in News from the Peabody Home Foundation, Fall 2010
Over in the office of Mr. Tom Peabody of the Peabody Furniture Company, the owner had put up a picture of his father, an ordinary sized, framed picture. It was just to the left of Peabody's desk and with a turn of his chair he can look across to the memorial Home and see the Tower, clear that morning against a sunny blue May sky.
There in a quiet spot rest the bodies of the donor of a great gift, while not far from them are housed many old people who there have the chance for happiness inasmuch as creature comforts of a continuous home can give. And that is often a very great deal.
And quietly out in front of the Memorial chapel stands the figure of grief and on the door is engraved: "To my mother and father".
Source: Development Matters, Peabody Home Foundation, Fall, 2010
A newspaper reported in 1936 that Tom Peabody had been planning a memorial to his parents for over a year. He got the idea of the Peabody Tower from an article by W.E. Billings describing the Bok Singing Tower in Florida. The Bok Tower is 205 feet tall and holds 71 bells, but was built before radio broadcasting and sound amplifying systems were known.
Tom Peabody enlisted the help of Charles Weatherhogg of Fort Wayne to put his vision into practical form. The Peabody Singing Tower was connected by an underground cable to broadcast "music, speaking, or other services of general interest by means of a microphone in the Chapel." Tom Peabody planned for the Tower to broadcast on occasions such as Christmas and Easter, or when something of general community interest was being given in the Chapel or by radio broadcast.
...During construction, area newspapers featured weekly postings of the progress of the Tower and the Chapel. On August 6, 1936, a newspaper printed "for the first time, people can get some concept of the distance into the sky that the tower will reach, and general effect it will have on the skyline, if a town the size of North Manchester can rightfully be supposed to have a skyline." The Tower has a commanding presence, visible for a couple of miles outside the town, especially at night when it is dramatically lighted. These factors were central to the nomination of the Peabody Memorial Tower to the National Register of Historic Places.
For more information, summary paragraphs and narrative descriptions contained in the application to the U.S. Department of the Interior for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, click here..., or see NEWSLETTER OF THE NORTH MANCHESTER HISTORICAL SOCIETY, August 2010.