Bell Tower Green Park
2022 NC Main Street Award: Design
Best Outdoor Space Improvement
City of Salisbury
Bell Tower Green, Inc.
Alfred C. Wilson and Company
Jethro Rumple, author of the 1881 book “A History of Rowan County,” called for a “place where inhabitants might refresh themselves by breathing the pure air that comes whispering through the rustling leaves of trees.” One hundred forty years later, Rumple’s vision was realized in the creation of Bell Tower Green Park, a 3.5-acre, privately funded, and exquisitely designed park in the center of Historic Downtown Salisbury.
In 2017, the property was purchased by a local non-profit and donated to the newly formed Bell Tower Green, Inc., a group of individuals who wanted to see the property converted into a park. Asphalt from the former parking lot that occupied the property was painstakingly searched by an archeological surveying group looking for historic artifacts.
The initial funds from 45 families provided the resources to plan, design, and further fundraise for the park’s creation. The final product has multiple amenities, including a beautiful green space, promenade garden, creative play space and natural playground, restroom pavilion, water wall, stage, the Bell Tower and garden, granite seat wall, and garden trellis.
The total investment exceeded $13 million. Three historic structures remain in the park, including the 1891 Bell Tower, the 1839 Female Academy, and the 1855 Session House. The design of the park focuses on these historic structures and calls attention to the historic nature of the entire area. The Bell Tower and Female Academy were restored with attention paid to using the same materials to repair damaged elements of the structures.
Prior to the Bell Tower Green Park, there were limited opportunities for outdoor recreation in downtown. The motto of the park fundraisers was “swapping asphalt for aspirations in Downtown Salisbury.” And those aspirations have been realized.
In the year since its opening, more than 10 concerts have taken place, with audiences ranging between 300 and 1,000 attendees. Festivals and events hosted at the park include Earth Day Jam, Juneteenth, Holiday Tree Lighting, and Santa and the Grinch, among others.
Each day, children play in the water wall or playground, meditation circles and yoga classes are active, birthday parties and picnics take place, and people are seen enjoying this amenity and patronizing downtown businesses.