The Basilica of Sainte Anne de Detroit is a church in Detroit that dates back to 1701 by French Colonists. It is one of the oldest continuously operated Roman Catholic parishes in the United States and until very recently its 300-year-old Beaubien Bell had been silent for decades as a result of falling into disrepair as a result of time, exposure to the elements, and simple lack of upkeep.
What is the significance of this 300-year-old church bell?
This church bell, which is called the Beaubien Bell, was first gifted to the church back in 1848 by Antoine Beaubien and was immediately considered an important symbol of the parish. When the current church structure was built in 1901 the bell was transferred into the east tower of the complex where it remained for decades. However, as a result of the passing of time and failure to maintain both the Beaubien Bell itself as well as the mechanism that housed it, the bells went silent in 1998, failing to raise the funds necessary to repair the Beaubien Bell or its hosting mechanism for the next 25 years.
Effectively, engineers were quoted that the state of the bell was in such disrepair that if one attempted to ring the bell manually with its old-fashioned rope, there was a significant chance it could have broken the mechanism holding the Beaubien Bell up, which could have sent it crashing through the floor. What this means is that fortunately, the repair plan for the bell, which required about $40,000, was just in time, or else the bell could have been permanently damaged by a partial or full collapse!
Now, the bell will operate on a more manageable electronic ringing system, which will be easier to control and can even be turned on and off using a simple tablet, making this one of the more modern church bell systems in the state of Michigan.
When can you hear the Beaubien Bell ring?
The Beaubien Bell at the Basilica of Sainte Anne de Detroit is not part of their everyday process, meaning that the church bells are back to ringing regularly. You can either choose to attend mass at the church or, if you aren’t interested in doing that, you can come by the church around the time of their mass proceedings which are often marked on their website.
Location: 1000 St Anne St, Detroit, MI 48216