As part of our current preservation project on the Centre Family Dwelling, the bell tower has been removed via crane! It was a sight to see for sure.
While the original bell was hung on Centre Family in 1839, it was cracked 10 years later and replaced with a new bell. As you can see from the photo above, the bell tower rests on the north side of the Centre Family Dwelling, sandwiched between two chimneys. Just a quick glance at this massive building and you may even miss it, but the bell could be heard throughout the Village.
According to Shaker journals, the bell served many purposes for the Shakers, usually for communication. Some instances include:
- Beginning of Workday (4 a.m. in summer and 5 a.m. in winter)
- End of Workday
- Meal Times
- Special Observances
According to our collections manager, the bell, like all of our 34 historic buildings, is considered a historic resource. During the last decade or so, the bell has been rung during educational workshops, field trips and before iconic daily programs such as music performances. We’ve also been known to start the (un)Pleasant Hill Trail Runs with the ringing of the bell. However, the bell hasn’t been in ringing condition for awhile now.
We’re looking forward to having this quirky and unique piece of our collection added back to the Centre Family Dwelling and hearing it ring throughout the Village! Look for Centre Family to re-open this fall. Until then, stop by and see all of the great things that are happening here!
Fun Fact: There is also a bell on the West Lot Dwelling.