Catalina Island News

Catalina Chimes Tower Foundation to Restore Beloved Landmark

Catalina Chimes Tower Foundation

One of the most charming features of Avalon is the iconic and beautifully designed Chimes Tower. Wanting to do something special for the community, Ada Elizabeth Wrigley, wife of William Wrigley Jr., purchased the Deagan Westminster chimes and, in December 1925, had a tower built to house them. It was her hope that the unique and melodic chimes would sound across the town for years to come, bringing enjoyment to all who came to Avalon and adding another bit of "character" to the magical island that had captivated her family.

Since 1925, the town has awakened to the delightful sound of the bells, originally beginning at 7:00 AM and continuing until 10:00 PM. Currently they ring from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Although the chimes operate on a timer mechanism, this can be turned off, which is what is done when Islander Jani Eisenhut, steps into the tower to play special tunes for Christmas, Easter and other events. Occasionally, Jani plays just for the sheer love of it.

The chimes, made by the J. C. Deagan Company of Chicago, are in good order and continue to ring on a daily basis; however the tower surrounding them has greatly deteriorated due to its advanced age, despite various efforts to maintain it.

Since May of 2013, Geoff and Alison Wrigley Rusack, as well as the management of the Santa Catalina Island Company, have been working to set up a charitable entity, under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, to restore this beloved landmark, operate it, and keep it maintained for future generations to enjoy. The establishment of the “Catalina Chimes Tower Foundation,” the granting of a perpetual easement over the land, and the donation of the historic structure and Deagan Westminster chimes have now been approved by the Island Company’s Board of Directors. Geoff and Alison have agreed to match any contributions made to the Foundation up to $100,000.00 in order to help kick off the renovation.

The Catalina Chimes Tower Foundation Board has also been set up, and is responsible for the management and operation of the entity. Comprising the Board are Charlie Canby, Lourdes Thoricht, Blanny Hagenah, Geoff Rusack, Alison Wrigley Rusack, Packy Offield, Randy Herrel and Catherine Stephens.

We all look forward to seeing the Chimes Tower come back to its original glory. For those who would like to help, tax deductible contributions may be sent to The Catalina Chimes Tower Foundation at P.O. Box 677, Avalon, CA 90704. For questions and comments please email

By Gina Long