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Bell Tower Visitor Center

Completed about 1824, the brick Bell Tower is a Virginia Welcome Center, open Monday-Friday, with travel information about the Commonwealth’s many attractions. The Bell Tower housed the Public Guard, which defended the Capitol and suppressed riots. Levi Swain, the contractor and presumably the designer, replaced an earlier structure with this handsome building. He topped it with a cupola and fish weathervane. The bell notably rang during the Civil War in 1861, when the gunboat USS Pawnee approached the city on the James River, and in 1864, during the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid on the Confederate capital.