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Bells for Peace…to Honor the Past and to Assure the Future

Bells for Peace, Inc will protect, elevate and enrich the history of Virginia Union University, an Historical Black College/University opened in 1865, by preserving the university’s prominent cornerstone. It will provide new bells in the empty tower belfry of the university's Belgian Friendship Building, restore the building, develop partnerships with great institutions and entities that will propel students from all over the world to make their “mark.”Continued excellence in national and international education prompted by the late John Malcus Ellison, Sr. and Elizabeth Balfour Ellison is the direct and underlying mission.

What: Bells for Peace, Inc is a charitable non-profit, non-stock organization that has achieved IRS 501(c)(3) status because it will enhance education through complete restoration of The Belgian Friendship Building at Virginia Union University. It will provide a top quality facility where excellence in multi-cultural educational services will be heightened for students, community, state, nation and world. Listed as a national treasure and Virginia Historical landmark, the building is without the bells that gave its original purpose. Its bells now ring in Hoover Tower, The Hoover Institution of War and Peace, Stanford University. The building, designed by world-renowned architect Henri Van de Velde, is in need of repair. Bells for Peace, Inc. will leverage local, national and international attention to the university to preserve excellence in education.

When: Now

Why: The Belgian Friendship Building was a $700,000 gift by the Belgium Government to the university in 1941 from the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. Its tower is now viewed throughout the Richmond community and must be preserved as a symbol of “hope and peace” for the total community. The university offers individualized quality educational programs to individuals from the region, nation and world, and because of its rich heritage and culture, it must be sustained in superb condition.

  About The Belgian Friendship Building with its Bells of Peace....
  • Designed by world renowned Belgian architect Henri Van de Velde
  • Dismantled, relocated and rebuilt in Richmond through the work of the university’s first African American president, John Malcus Ellison, Sr. who raised $500,000 to bring the building in Richmond.
  • Discovered that the Belgian Building’s original bells are located in Hoover Tower at Stanford University
  • The Belgian Building is in need of restoration and bells

How: Use a powerful board of directors and honorary board of directors in partnership with the university and corporate sponsors to promote the project.
Leverage funding through donors whose missions embrace the purposes of Bells for Peace, Inc.
Harness support from the community to celebrate the importance that the visual representation of a preserved international building at a historical black university in an urban setting will bring.
Embrace multiculturalism, international understanding, friendship and peace through excellence in higher education.

Who: Bells for Peace Inc, Board, The Virginia Union University community, The Virginia Union University National Alumni Association, institutions of higher of higher education, corporate partners and friends locally, nationally and internationally.

Implications: The entire university will benefit from Bells for Peace, Inc because its founding is based on the purview of Dr. and Mrs. Ellison’s life’s work. The resulting endowed chairs will benefit a full complement of university students: fine arts, sociology, education, science, history, business and spiritual studies. The Ellison’s were interested in international affairs and cultural diversity issues. They enjoyed participating in university sports as spectators and they maintained a connection with the community.
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Website Created March 2005
Last Updated on May 17, 2011