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News & Announcements
Bells Show We Care
Walkers completing this year’s three and a half mile, “CROP Walk”, were directed to the official Friends of the Norwich Bells bell in front of Lee Memorial Methodist Church to, “Ring for the hungry.” Event coordinator, David Henricks really got into the idea and our artist, Scott Baldwin had just completed some remarkable imbellishment and stabilizing of the bell and stand.
“I think I’m to tired to ring the bell”, said one walker.
“Got to ring it or you have to go around again”, teased Kevin Harkins.
It turned out to be a very successful opportunity at building our relationship with the community, but the real meaning came toward the end of the walk.
“Just ring it one time”, admonished Mr. Henricks after a walker would set in a clanging. Then, a walker came in saying that there were two people at the hospital. Apparently, a participant had had an asthma attack and another walker helped them get into the emergency room which was just a couple hundred yards off the route. The walker approached our table, grabbed the bell rope firmly and rang, then rang, then rang again.
“Just ring it once”, Mr. Henricks instructed.
“No”, said the walker, “I’m ringing for the people at the hospital too”.
And you wonder why we love bells.
ABA Visits Bell Town.
The 101st semi annual meeting of the New England Chapter of the American Bell Association International INC. was held on April 27 in East Hampton, Connecticut. The gathering at Angelico’s Lake House Restaurant and hosted by Friends of the Norwich Bells was a resounding success by all accounts.
Members and guests were entertained by Norwich resident and First State Troubadour, Tom Callinan just prior to the noon lunch. The afternoon featured a visit by CT. State Senator Art Linares who spoke about the importance of the bell manufacturing industry to our state.
“The fire did not destroy your spirit”, Linares told Bevin Brother CEO, Mat Bevin, who was the afternoon’s keynote speaker. The Bevin bell factory was destroyed in a May, 2012 blaze, and along with it, nearly all the company’s machinery, products and records.
Mat Bevin gave a compelling account of the Bevin family business and bell making in East Hampton highlighting the relevance of manufacturing, entrepreneurship and jobs that have made, “the American dream”, possible for so many.
To listen to Mr. Bevin’s entertaining and provocative talk, go to the, “Learn More”, section of this page and click on, “Mat Bevin at 101st NECABA”.
3 Years in the Making
Sunshine drenched the steps of the Central Baptist Church in downtown Norwich as Pastor Nancy Forsston cut the ribbon on the first bundle of Ring Out Rose City CD’s that went on sale today around the city. “This bell rings in the key of D”, said First State Troubadour Tom Callinan, quickly tuning his guitar to match the tone of the bell so he could begin playing as soon as the bell struck ten times. “There are bell that bing, and bells that bong”, the small crowd sung while television cameras rolled and Tom’s, The Bells of Norwich, announced the opening of the Tuesday press conference.
“So who’s going to buy these CD’s: asked the season reporter from the local CBS affiliate. FNB president, Kevin Harkins, didn’t miss a beat… “Everyone”, he replied.
Director, Richard Hamar, Treasurer, Miriam Mills, and our resident artist, Scott Baldwin spoke to reporters while church members and visitors who had read of the upcoming release in local papers purchased CD’s and joined in the magic of the moment.
We wish to thank everyone in the city who has helped us see this exciting project to fruition. We are also very appreciative of the work the media has done to help publicize what has come to be known as, “The bell project”.
The Norwich Rose
The Shoreline Times
NBC Connecticut 30
* And others.
State Senator Linares to Address NECABA
CT. State Senator Art Linares, (r) 33d District, will speak at 1:30 PM on April 27 at the NECABA meeting in East Hampton, CT. The state’s youngest republican state senator will voice his support for Bevin Brothers and the importance of bell manufacturing in the town.
Let Freedom Ring Again on July 4
The Office of Legislative Management has notified Friends of the Norwich Bells that it’s request to coordinate the ringing of the state’s Replica Liberty Bell at the capitol on Independence Day has been approved. This will be the second year our group has sponsored the ceremony which will take place at 2 PM on July 4th at the south entrance of the capitol building. Truxton Brodhead, 78 of East Lime was elated to hear the news and will ring the bell again this year. Brodhead is a direct descendant of George Reed, who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The July 4 ceremony is open to the public.
Norwich Commemorates 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, 1-1-2013
Nearly two years of planning will culminate in the grand celebration throughout our city this coming Tuesday, New Years Day. The event will recreate the events of January 2, 1863 when Norwich put on one of the biggest salutes to President Lincoln’s proclamation anywhere. From noon until 1 o’clock, bells will ring continually across Norwich as was ordered by Mayor Greene that day. Shortly after 1 PM, there will be a one hundred cannon fire tribute at the harbor, and at 2 PM, citizens will gather for a special program at the Slater Auditorium.
Below is the most accurate list available of locations where tower bells and carillons can be heard. The EPCC indicates there may be additional churches and organizations planning to ring, but that these are the ones that have confirmed plans to participate.
For up-to-the-minute information on New Years Day, we suggest following local media websites, or tune to W.I.C.H. 1310 AM in Norwich.
.. .. .. .. ..
Grace Episcopal Church (Yantic)
Sacred Heart Church of Norwich Town
Park Congregational Church
St. Patrick Cathedral
Norwich City Hall
National Spiritualist Church
St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church (Greeneville)
Taftville Congregational Church
Yantic Fire Department
Sacred Heart Church of Taftville
Central Fire Station
St. Joseph Church (Cliff Street)
Norwich Freedom Bell (in front of City Hall)
Central Baptist Church
Evans Memorial AME Zion Church
Central Baptist Bell Rings Again
One of the city’s great bells is ringing out again. The old Paul Revere Iron Works bell at Central Baptist Church sounds every hour from 7 AM to 10 PM after falling silent for four and a half years. The nineteenth century bell became wedged at an unmanageable angle during Norwich’s 350th anniversary celebration in 2008, but is tolling once again.
Planning Continues for January 1 Bell Ringing
At the October 22 community meeting in City Hall, details were firmed up for the city-wide ringing of bells on New Years Day, the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. The EPCC will be contacting individual churches, fire companies, schools and other facilities to confirm which plan to participate and which will need help from volunteers on the big day. On January 1, bells throughout Norwich will ring for one hour starting at 12 noon, recreating the celebration of 1863. Word has come that Central Baptist Church expects their bell to be ringable in time for the commemoration. We have also learned that Evans Memorial AME Zion Church will be having a carillon installed in time for the event. The next community planning meeting is tentatively scheduled for November 13. We’ll post the details as soon as available. Towns and cities throughout Connecticut are also being asked to join in the celebration by ringing their bells for at least one minute at noon on January 1, 2013.
Push Back for CD Release Date
While production of the master cd is expected to be completed in a few days, a financial challenge is delaying the scheduled release. Friends of the Norwich Bells need $1700 to pay for having the first run of cd’s made and packaged. If you know of someone who would like to help us with this issue or a business that would like to be advertised on the Ring Out Rose City album, please contact us immediately.
Over 100 of Norwich’s bells, big and small, will be featured on this full length, beautiful release that makes a really nice holiday gift. The city’s old fire bells, trolley bells, church and factory bells and more are included on this remarkable audio collection you will treasure for years. The album will sell for $10, and advance orders are welcome.
3d Annual Leffingwell Museum Ring October 20
Friends of the Norwich Bells will once again join with the Norwich Lions Club in ringing bells on the lawn of the Leffingwell House Museum for the fall chocolate ball and annual open house at the historic home. Come tour this fascinating old home, have a sweet treat and something warm to drink, and stop and ring a bell for a few minutes. The museum is located at 348 Washington Street at the intersection of the Rt. 2 connector and Harland Road. We will be ringing from noon to 5 o’clock.
Second Meeting Scheduled to Plan Jan. 1 Bell Ringing
The second in a series of community meetings to plan the January 1, 2013 city-wide bell ringing has been scheduled for 7 PM on Monday, October 22, in room 335 of City Hall.
A small group met on September 22. A variety of things were touched on, with most of the discussion pivoting on getting children involved in the event, including the ringing of hand bells at various places around the city. The October meeting will focus on getting churches and other organizations on board and signing up volunteers to help ring tower bells on the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. Representative of churches, fire companies, schools and other institutions that have bells and carillons are encouraged to attend the October meeting, as well as interested Norwich residents.
Excitement is mounting for the New Years Day event which will replicate the celebration of 1863 that included the ringing of bells throughout Norwich for one hour and the firing of cannons. An effort is afoot to repair some of the bells that are not currently ringable in time for the commemoration. Meanwhile, the Verdin Company has been approached about hooking up microphones and loud speakers to broadcast the ringing of those tower bells located inside structure, such as thePanema Mill, Falls Mill, and Greeneville Fire bells.
Weekend Marks Turning Point in the Civil War
On September 22 and 23, Norwich, Connecticut will mark the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the bloodiest single day in the nation’s history which would result in President Lincoln’s release of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. At noon on Saturday, ceremonies in front of City Hall will honor native sons who were among twenty three thousand casualties at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862. At 1-30 that afternoon, a community meeting to plan the January 1, 2013 city-wide ringing of bells will take place at Christ Episcopal Church on Washington Street. And at 3 PM on Sunday, the twenty two voices of Take Note! Will give their first concert ever in Norwich at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Central Avenue. All events are free to the public.
“We are working on getting an exact count of how many soldiers from Norwich perished,” said Norwich City Historian, Dale Plummer, who chairs the Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration Committee. “Record keeping wasn’t always the best”, Plummer added. “Some of the wounded died days, even months later, and some local boys signed on with regiments from surrounding states and were not recognized as Connecticut soldiers”, said Plummer.
While casualties on both sides at Antietam were staggering, Union troops ultimately prevailed. Five days later, on September 22, 1862, President Lincoln publicly announced the Emancipation Proclamation. When the final document was signed into law on January 1, 1863, paving the way to freedom for African-American slaves, Norwich celebrated with the firing of cannons and the ringing of bells throughout the city for one hour.
Saturday’s program on the steps of City Hall will include an address by State Representative, Ernest Hewett, a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by Lincoln portrayer Lewis Dube, meditations lead by local clergy, and ringing of the Norwich Freedom Bell. In the event of inclement weather, ceremonies will be moved to City Council Chambers on the third floor of City Hall.
At 1-30 that afternoon, a community meeting sponsored by Friends of the Norwich Bells will take up planning of the New Years Day city-wide ringing of bells. Churches, schools, fire companies and other institutions with bells as well as residents wishing to help ring them are urged to attend. The gathering will take place in the Pine Room at Christ Episcopal Church, 78 Washington Street.
At 3 PM on Sunday, “sweet sounds from the quiet corner”, will fill the sanctuary of St. Mary’s Church at 70 Central Avenue. Take Note!, an a capella chorus comprised of singers from all walks of life, will give their first performance ever in Norwich. Spiritual, ethnic and patriotic songs for all ages will be featured with refreshments to follow in the church’s fellowship hall. The concert is free to all; however, generous donations will be thankfully received to help build the Freedom Bell Tower and Memorial Courtyard adjacent to City Hall.
The Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration Committee is coordinating Norwich’s honoring of that historic document on it’s one hundred fiftieth anniversary. In June, the nation’s first bell commissioned to celebrate the proclamation was cast at Howard T. Brown Park. Gail Adams, Director, U.S. Department of the Interior, said that Norwich was one of the first cities in the country to organize a community commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. To learn more about the EPCC and upcoming events, visit- www.norwichfreedombell.com Or call, 860-859-5349.
Meeting to Plan January 1 Bell Ringing
This year’s annual general meeting of Friends of the Norwich Bells will be a community gathering to plan the city-wide bell ringing on January 1. The meeting is open to the public and will take place at 1-30 PM on Saturday, September 22 in the Pine Room at Christ Episcopal Church, 78 Washington Street in Norwich. All churches and other organizations interested in participating in the event on the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation are encouraged to send a representative to the meeting. Individuals wishing to participate or volunteer to ring bells are also asked to attend. The gathering will follow ceremonies at noon at City Hall commemorating President Lincoln’s presentation to his Cabinet of the proclamation’s first draft in 1862.
The First Shall Be Last
Take 6 was a resounding success at Grace Episcopal Church in Yantic. On August 22nd, after numerous attempts, we got a perfect recording of the church’s four bells change ringing by church member, Bill Small. The church was the first one we tried to record at back in 2010 as production began for our Ring Out Rose City c.d. Repeated attempts fell prey to the wind that always seems to be blowing up on that hill. Finally, we got it, and it now appears all recordings for the album have been completed.
Stop the PressesKevin Harkins says he may be willing to delay release of the Ring Out Rose City Album if what we’re hearing is true. Word has come that Central Baptist Church is considering signing a contract with the Verdin Company to repair the supports for it’s historic bell. The bell was last rung in 2009 for the 350th anniversary of the founding of the city of Norwich when it became wedged at a peculiar angle and could no longer sound. Harkins says he will be monitoring the situation closely, and if repairs can be affected quickly, it would be well worth holding production of the c.d. for a couple of weeks or so, in order that a recording of the magnificent bell can be included. “Even if we don’t get the album out until the end of October, it will still be on store shelves in time for the holidays”, Harkins said.
ABA Supports Norwich Freedom Bell
The EPCC reports it has received a donation in the amount of $1030 from the Heartland Bell Club by American Bell Association Members in the U.S. and Brittan. The continued support of bell collectors and aficionados far and wide for America’s first Emancipation Proclamation Bell sends a resounding message. For as long as there are bells to be rung, they will ring out for freedom.
Bells in School
A home schooling group based in Gales Ferry is preparing an autumn curriculum about bells. Some of the children attended the casting of the Norwich Freedom Bell in June. The EPCC and several other organizations including local churches have offered help with the program, including giving tours of bells in the area and opportunities for the children to ring them. FNB is ready to support this program in any way we can.
Want to Learn About Bells? Call a Plummer!
When the New England Chapter of the American Bell Association meets on September 29 in New Hampshire, members will be treated to a program about Paul Revere Bells, by our very own, Dale Plummer. Perhaps it was the bell that rang in the church tower when this great American made his famous midnight ride that inspired Revere and his son to see to the manufacture of bells that still ring today. Norwich has several. But our City Historian isn’t letting on what he has in store for anxious attendees in September. Call us for car pooling, and we’ll have updates on the meeting on the website soon.
Freedom to Sing Again
Music from the Quiet Corner comes to Norwich for the first time ever, Sunday, September 23, 3 PM, at St. Mary’s Church, 70 Central Avenue. Take-Note, The 22 voice accapella choir will perform a collection of patriotic, spiritual and ethnics songs to raise funds for the Freedom Memorial Courtyard at City Hall. The concert is free and great for all ages. Your thoughtful donation will be thankfully received. Checks should be made out to, “City of Norwich EPCC”. Refreshments will follow the one hour show.
As Tolled At the Pumps
Our friend, Scott, says he stopped to fuel his vehicle at one of our local gas stations on a recent, sweltering afternoon. While there, he was approached by a car load of folks from out of town who asked if there was a place they could go to pick up some souvenirs of Norwich. “Maybe some shot glasses, or bells?” one visitor suggested?
By the way… remember when every time you’d pull into a gas station, a bell would ring?
One for the Company Picnic
Q. What do you get when the president of Friends of the Norwich Bells becomes president of the Norwich Lions Club and goes to a baseball game at Dodd Stadium?
A. Lions and Tigers and bells, Oh My!
Liberty to Ring Out from State Capitol
Truxton Brodhead, 77, of Niantic will ring Connecticut’s replica Liberty Bell at the State Capitol at 2 PM on July 4. Brodhead is a veteran and a direct descendent of George Read, one of fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Ceremonies begin at 1-45 PM at the south entrance of the State Capitol, and are sponsored by Friends of the Norwich Bells.
“I was mortified to learn that the bell wasn’t being run on July 4th any more”, said Kevin Harkins, President of Friends of the Norwich Bells. “I read a newspaper article that said the event had been cancelled due to, “”lack of interest””, and I went nuts”, Harkins said. “I thought to myself, where is our sense of history… where is our sense of patriotism… where is our sense?” Harkins added.
Harkins’s research led him to Truxton Brodhead, who had brought a dozen or so Boy Scouts to the capitol on July 4, 2004-2010 to ring the bell. Brodhead said he had cancelled the event in 2011 because nobody wanted to show up. Harkins said that he didn’t care if anyone showed up or not… “If it’s God’s will, that bell is going to be rung on July 4.” Mr. Brodhead heartily agreed to ring the bell if arrangements could be made.
Upon confirming that no other organizations planned to ring the replica Liberty Bell at the capitol, Mr. Harkins contacted the Office of Legislative Management. He submitted the necessary paperwork requesting his organization be permitted to perform the ceremony on Independence Day. “It must have been somebody’s will because we received approval early this afternoon”, Harkins said on Friday.
Connecticut’s replica of the original Liberty Bell is one of fifty-five commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Department in 1950 and distributed to all state capitols and territories. One went to the District of Columbia and one remained in Annecy, France where the bells were manufactured. Each replica weighs over a ton and sounds the exact same note as the original Liberty Bell.
In 1963, a joint resolution of Congress authorized the Let Freedom Ring National Bell Ringing Ceremony. On Wednesday, July 4, porters will wheel the big bell to the south doorway of the capitol. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon, Truxton Brodhead will ring Connecticut’s Liberty Bell thirteen times in recognition of the thirteen original colonies. Interested members of the public are welcome to attend.
Friends of the Norwich Bells, founded in 2010, is a group of citizens promoting the preservation and enjoyment of bells and bell ringing in The Rose City. Several of the group’s members also belong to the New England Chapter of the American Bell Association and were involved in the casting of the nation’s first Emancipation Proclamation Bell that took place on June 15.br>
Fire Destroys Bevin Brothers Factory
Bell enthusiasts and collectors nationwide are expressing sadness at word of Saturday night’s fire that destroyed the factory of the country’s oldest company manufacturing just bells. Bevin Brothers, operating continuously since 1832, held a prominent place in the history of East Hampton, CT., widely known as, “Bell Town, U.S.A.
“We are mortified at the news”, said Kevin Harkins, President of Friends of the Norwich Bells. “We are grateful that no lives were lost”, said Harkins, “but many lives will be affected by this tragedy, and our prayers go out to those families.”
Representatives of the local bell group accompanied City Historian, Dale Plummer, on a visit to Bevin in 2010 to learn about the company’s products and it’s history. Since then, Bevin Brothers has produced ornamental bells for Grace Episcopal Church in Yantic, and 150th Anniversary Civil War key chain bells which are on sale at the Slater Museum.
Harkins says he had just spoken to a Bevin sales representative Friday about ordering bells commemorating the visit of the Freedom Schooner Amistad to Norwich for Freedom Weekend, June 14-16. “These are wonderful people I knew and dealt with personally”, Harkins added. “They figure prominently in the history of bell making in this country, were the world’s leading manufacturer of sleigh bells, and they had good product and very reasonable rates”, Harkins said.
Friends of the Norwich Bells says it notified the American Bell Association of the fire on Sunday, and has since learned that bell collectors and aficionados across the country have been shaken by the news. Harkins says he has notified Amistad America of the tragedy. He says he will try to call Bevin Brothers on Monday but doesn’t really expect anyone to be answering the phone.
Saturday night’s blaze in East Hampton will have no affect on the Norwich Freedom Bell casting on June 15, since that is being done by the Verdin Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.
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