Religion: Bells

2 minute read

Modern cathedrals, dependent for their growth on donations from the pious, rise slowly—though nothing like as slowly as the cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Sometimes their upthrust is accelerated when a rich man dies, leaves a legacy. San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral (Episcopal), building since 1910 on Nob Hill, has had a different course. For the past year its staff has watched, with anxious eyes, the state of health of a doddering, 85-year-old retired dentist named Dr. Nathaniel Coulson. To the Cathedral’s building fund, pious Dr. Coulson has assigned the income of no less than 50 annuities, totaling between $1,000 and $2,000 a month. The annuities cease when Dr. Coulson dies.

Ten years ago Dentist Coulson sold $25,000 worth of bonds, ordered a carillon for the Cathedral. Last year the Cathedral’s North Tower, which was to hold the bells, still existed only on paper. Dr. Coulson sold the rest of his securities—$42,000 worth—and moved into an old people’s home, to save enough to get the tower started so that he could hear his bells before he dies. For this good Episcopalian, last week was a happy one. Not only was the tower under way but the carillon arrived from England. The bells were installed in the central tower of San Francisco’s 1939 Exposition, to remain there for its duration.

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