bell to be placed
in yard for permanent display
will soon be able
to see and touch the historic bell
(August 2011) Not many people in the county
have had a chance to see and touch the historic bell that once hung
in the Jefferson County Courthouse cupola. They will be able to do that
during the rededication festivities, set for Aug. 26-27.
by Laura Hodges
survived the May 2009
fire and has since
Afterward, the bell will be housed in an enclosure, sealed
off from the elements, on the west lawn of the courthouse. It has been
restored and polished to a gleaming shine by H&D Professional Brass
Polishing in Louisville.
The bell survived the Courthouse fire of May 29, 2009. Nine days later,
workers hoisted it carefully out of the fire-damaged bell tower and
placed it onto Main Street, where onlookers photographed it for hours.
Unless they had made the difficult climb to the top of the courthouse
tower, most people had never seen the courthouse bell.
According to inscriptions on the four sides of the bells surface,
the G.W. Coffin & Co. made it in 1864 at Buckeye Foundry in Cincinnati.
It is tuned to the letter E.
This bell is apparently a replacement for the bell that was installed
in the courthouse when it was new. According to information on file
at the Jefferson County Auditors office, that bell was installed
in the bell tower on Nov. 9, 1855, and dedicated on Dec. 27, 1855. Its
purchase price, $742.29, was paid by subscriptions given
by the people of Madison. Made by the West Troy Foundry in West Troy,
N.Y., it was warranted to have a tone that was pleasing.
This original bell fell victim to fire just four years later, in 1859.
During that fire, the bell fell through the roof and landed in the basement.
The replacement bell was not made until five years later.
The bell no longer has a clapper and cannot be rung. A digital carillon
has replaced the bell in the new courthouse tower. It has the ability
to play prerecorded music at set times for example, the Westminster
chimes on the hour or patriotic music on holidays.
The last person to ring the 1864 bell was county maintenance employee
Duane Hall, who hit it with a mallet 90 times to punctuate the names
read during a crime victims rights ceremony in April 2009.
Back to August 2011 Articles.