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Lacawac's historic Deagan Chimes still sound!

Arthur Watres, grandson of Col. Louis Watres, plays the Deagan chimes at Lacawac

Deagan Chimes undergoing restoration prior to hanging at Lacawac.

   When you visit Lacawac you may notice a set of large very round metallic objects hanging from a tower looking like giant bats hanging from a belfry.  These are our historic Deegan Chimes!   At one time they rang out a glorious melody each holiday that echoed from one mountainside to the next over the city of Scranton. 

    The chimes were originally purchased by Col. Louis A.  Watres and installed in his hilltop mansion “Pen-y-Bryn."  Watres was well known in Scranton as he was involved in banking, manufacturing, utilities, owned the newspapers and had been Lt. Governor.  He was also a highly respected philanthropist. The people of Scranton liked and respected Watres – and it was a two way street.  Therefore they welcomed the sounding of the chimes each hour and on special days as one of the happier footnotes of life in the big city .

    Watres purchased the chimes in 1928 for $10,000. They are one of only seven sets of custom chimes cast by the Deagan Company of Chicago – that were installed in a private home. Most were shipped worldwide where they have come to hang in many great cathedrals.   Today, only a handful of the 438 sets cast are still in operation.  In 1937 when Pen-y-Bryn was lost in a fire, the Watres chimes were rescued from the wreckage by concerned neighbors.  They were eventually brought to Lacawac and stored here by the Colonel’s grandson, Arthur Watres.

    In 1995, a group of volunteers, led by D.J. Roberts and Jon Tandy, erected a new tower in the Connell Park historic building complex here and hung the 16 bronze alloy chimes from it. This was no small task as the set ranged in weight from 130-390 lbs.  Initially they could be played by hand – but in 2000, the volunteers devised an electronic system based on powerful magnets and a laptop computer to allow them to play pre-programmed tunes automatically.  Subsequently the magnet system burned out and after repeated try’s – today the chimes can only be played manually.

    Visitors and tour guests are invited to take up the anvil and play a tune when here.  Musicians who would like to experiment with playing a full size chime set are invited to also visit.  And while we are at it – any electrical engineers out there who think they might be able to diagnose why the electronic system keeps burning out – please visit and we would love to hear your ideas for restoring it.

    It was the vision of Col. Watres’s daughter Isabelle that someday the chimes be moved to a tower high on the hilltop here at Lacawac. This was so that they can be played on high and the sound will ring out over Lake Wallenpaupack, resuming a NEPA tradition that has been silenced since 1937.  

Scranton Times story - more about the chimes!

Historic photo of Deagan Chimes installed in a tower