CAMDEN — As part of the ongoing Town Hall renovations and bicentennial celebration, the Village of Camden welcomed back its historic bell and a brand new bell tower on Sunday, Aug. 19.
Village officials met bright and early to see the structure raised to the top of the building by crane and placed like a cherry on top.
One observer was Jerry Wood, whose family actually preserved the historic bell, knowing it belonged in the village instead of elsewhere.
“I was mayor for 11 years and on council for 24 and my dad was over 40 years on council, so we have always been involved in the town. Years and years ago, the wood structure had collapsed down on itself. They had it stored in the town hall for years. Some people had bought it off the town and it’s a long story, but Dad wanted to keep it in town. We’ve had the bell since the late 1960s, some time in there,” Wood said.
“The bell is original, but the new structure is very similar to the old one, it’s all iron and painted and primed and should not deteriorate. The bell was taken down sometime in 1965, I would say. I think this bell is about as original as can be, and it has a beautiful tone. We thought it would sound nice, but it is just beautiful. It’s going to be great having it back.
“I’m happy it found it’s way home. They have done a great job on the town hall and are going to take care of it. They have done a first class job. They have not cut any corners on the town hall, nor that bell structure.”
According to Councilman Kelly Doran, the bell tower addition was a collaboration between many community members who dedicated their time and money to bringing back the town staple.
“It is one of the finishing touches the building needed to look like it did in 1889. We want the bell to ring at least starting out every day at noon. Maybe at 3 p.m., 6 p.m., and 9 p.m., depending on what people want to hear and what they will tolerate. It is something that will be nice to hear every two or three hours. One of the thoughts was the have the bell ring on council meeting nights, which are every first and third Thursday at 7 p.m.,” Doran said.
“When Phase II is done, if someone is having a wedding reception up there, you can have the bell toll. There are many different setting. It is just a nice architectural feature and a nice touch to finish up the project, in my opinion. Phase II has been delayed because of our audit, but it will start this fall. That is something that is going to happen. That is the key to making that building the center and hub of the community.
“This building has been a big boost of moral for our little town. The positive remarks far out weight the negative remarks. People have come to see it as a worthwhile project. People give us rave reviews when they come see it from all over. We are very please with how it has turned out and what it means to our community. I think it says a lot about the direction of our town.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH