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Members List:

Technical Advisor:
Richard Hamar
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Executive Producer:
Jim Harkins
Education & Public Relations Coordinator:
Deb Kievits
Membership Chair:
Lenora Konow
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Mark Mathis
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Scott Baldwin
Kevin Harkins
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Dale Plummer
Mirium Mills
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David Oat
Joseph Mendelsohn
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C.D. to Enter Final Production

Our Ring Out Rose City album of the bells of Norwich is on schedule for release in the early Fall. The c.d. will feature recordings of over a hundred of our city’s bells, big and small, along with a fact sheet describing each and it’s history. Order yours for a pre-sale price of $10 with a tax deductible donation. Make check payable to Norwich Historical Society with the word, “bells”, on the memo line, an mail to Friends of the Norwich Bells. Our address is at the bottom of this page.

Have Your Name Engraved on the Bell Tower

Fund raising is in high gear as Norwich prepares to have the nation’s first Emancipation Proclamation Bell cast here on our water front and permanently erected adjacent to City Hall. The thirteen foot bell tower designed by Barun Basu Associates of New London will include a bronze placard containing the names of those individuals and nonprofit organizations that have donated one thousand dollars or more to the bell. This is an excellent way to be a part of history or have your family or a loved one memorialized in a significant and beautiful way. Visit, www.norwichfreedombell.com or call, 860-859-5349 to find out more.

Amistad to Visit Norwich for Freedom Weekend

The freedom schooner Amistad will be in Norwich Harbor for the first time ever June 14th, 15th, and 16th. The wooden vessel, a replica of L'Amistad, was built at the shipyard at Mystic Seaport and Launched in 2000, the original Amistad was carrying a cargo of kidnapped Africans to a Cuban plantation in 1839, when the Africans revolted and seized control of the ship. Brought into New London harbor, the incident gained notoriety when the Africans Legally established their freedom in a court case which ended at the U.S. Supreme Court. Former president John Quincy Adams successfully argued the case before the Court.

The visit in June will be the first port call the Amistad has made for nearly two Years, after sustaining damage in a return trip from Havana. The vessel has logged Tens of thousands of miles at sea since her construction. She is typical of the Schooners which plied the seas in the 1800s, carrying a variety of cargo. The role of The Amistad today is teaching the history of the slave trade and of the struggle for Freedom and civil rights.

For information about tours, visit www.norwichfreedombell.com

Ring for The Risen Lord

The joyous sound of bells big and small will once again celebrate Easter Eve this year at Grace Episcopal Church in Yantic. All are welcome to this beautiful worship service at 6 PM on Saturday, April 7. Consider bringing a bell to ring at the appointed time. The music of Dozens of different bells proclaiming, “New Fire, Eucharist, and Toasting of the Lord's Resurrection “, will fill the sanctuary. If you don’t have a bell to bring, extras will be available at the back of the church. After, gather in Martin Hall next door for a toast to The Risen Christ, refreshment and fellowship.

Lincoln-Douglas Debates Dinner, S O L D O U T

Lincoln-Douglas Debates Dinner, Feb. 10

Noted re enactors, Louis Dube and Luke Boyd will recreate the 1858 debates between Abraham Lincoln and Senator Steven A. Douglas at a special dinner on Friday, February 10. The event will be at 6-00 PM at Three Rivers Community College. After dinner, local high school students will debate the issue of states rights, then and now. Tickets are only $10, benefitting the 150th Anniversary Commemoration of the Emancipation Proclamation in Norwich. For details, visit our “FREEDOM WILL RING”, page.

Super Bell Sunday, 2012

Ring for New England or ring for New York, Ring for those big handsome hunks of raw pork: Ring that the best team may prosper and win, Or ring that the keg may be tapped and begin.

Ring for the heroes, “Long may they last!”, Let bells tell the story of those recently passed: The women out shopping at stores far and near, You and the pork rinds and the game of the year.

Ring that their quarter back soon may be sacked, Ring that you might get your credit card back. Ring for America, it’s good to be free, Even if the score is twenty to three.

It’s half time and outcome the hot dogs and wings, Burgers and salads and onion rings. But a bell rings much better it seems to me, For all the newest commercials you’ll see.

The girls with their palm-palms and the half time band, Ring for the flag that flies over the stands. You want to ring the official’s fat neck, Or at least meet the guy that signs his pay check.

But you ring for tradition and the American way, And the time that forgot this wonderful day. When policeman and fireman, soldier and cook, Cab drivers, priest, and the ones that make book:

Teachers and doctors, witches and pimps, Athletes and artists, children and imps… All join together for one single thing, Like parts of a puzzle, the piece of one ring.

Now your house is a wreck, the toilet won’t flush, The dog’s throwing up, must have drank way too much: Your credit’s maxed out, the car’s out of gas, You fumble and falter and miss that big pass.

But you stood up and chimed in and did what you could, To make the day fun, what you remember was good: Just give God thanks for one single thing, At six A M Monday when you hear that bell ring.

EPCC Seeking Volunteers

Our City Historian, Dale Plummer, is looking for a few volunteers who would like to work a couple of hours or so a week helping out in his office. Duties would mainly consist of answering phones and returning calls and emails, filing and performing basic office functions. Hours would be flexible. Ideally persons with good communications and organizational skills would be preferable.

If you’re interested in history and the work being done by the Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration Committee and you like volunteering in a relaxed, positive atmosphere, consider giving Dale at call. His office number is, 860-859-5349.

26th Annual Medieval Feast

Make reservations now for Norwich’s annual Twelfth Night festivities. There will be abundant food and fun for all, but seating is limited.

Hear ye, hear ye! This winter’s Twelfth Night celebration will actually take place on Twelfth Night, January 6th, 2012 at 6-30 PM, at Central Baptist Church, 2 Union Street in Norwich. Proceeds will benefit the Norwich Lions Club and the city’s 150th Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration. Seating is limited so reservations are required.

A donation of $25 includes a multi course medieval meal and three hours of fun and entertainment. A limited number of seats are available at the head table for $50. Reservations may be made by calling, 860-887-0370 and are confirmed upon receipt of payment. Payment by check should be mailed to, Norwich Lions Club, P.O. Box 27, Norwich, CT. 06360.

This year’s menu will include salad, pomegranate chicken, pork pie, florentine spinach, sweet and sour carrots, frumenty, a surprise subtlety, and, of course, daryoles! Each tasty course will be prepared and presented in keeping with medieval customs and recipes.

Delight in the antics of jesters, mimes, lords and ladies. Guests may even purchase, “indulgences”, at a nominal cost, insuring that their misdeeds of the past year are forgotten. And, who will be this year’s Lord of Misrule? It’s always a surprise. Performances by musicians Tim 'N Vicki and bagpiper Glenn Pryor Will provide an enchanted evening for all. Medieval attire is welcome, but not required.

“We are grateful for the generosity of Central Baptist Church in providing the venue for this year’s event”, said Dale Plummer, who has coordinated the festive gathering since 1987.

This year’s celebration will benefit community service projects of the Norwich Lions Club, and raise funds for Norwich’s commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 2013.

To learn more about the 26th Annual Twelfth Night Celebration, please call, 860-887-0370, or visit, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Norwich-Medieval-Feast/145985292110743

Ring If You Like Our Service

When you exit the Big Y supermarket in Norwich you’ll see an iron bell and a sign that asks customers to ring the bell if they received good service in the store. We haven’t checked to see if this is being done at other Big Y grocery outlets, but we at Friends of the Norwich Bells applaud store management for the idea. Maybe other retailers could try this. Churches? Uhm, probably not.

Yantic Church Prays Bells Will Keep Ringing

When Jeff Lewis of the Verdin Company inspected the bell tower at Grace Episcopal Church in the fall, the estimate for needed repairs came in at $17.000. The historic church, who’s bells have rung out across the village of Yantic since 1923, incurred over $70.000 in repair costs after storms in 2010 damaged it’s roofs, organ, bell tower and narthex. So Lewis was asked to provide an estimate for repairing only the issues that solved immediate safety concerns. On December 27, a revised proposal came in at just under $10.000.

“We just don’t have the money”, parish warden Bob Luppert told Friends of the Norwich Bells later that day.

Grace Church is not the only house of worship in Norwich in that very same predicament, and FNB has locked step with the Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration Committee to try to find funds for repairs, in preparation for the January 1, 2013 city-wide ringing. Meanwhile, anyone who can help is urged to contact us.

On a quiet morning, when the breeze is just right, you can actually hear the West Minster peel of bells from Grace as far east as Backus Hospital. But, for how long? Luppert says he worries that some of the church’s bell ringers have been rocking the bells, a major no-no right now. He says he may have to tie off the ropes so that nobody can reach them, and the glorious bells would fall silent until repairs can be funded.

Sleigh Bells, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Some archeologists assert that sleigh bells date back a couple of thousand years. While their origin doesn’t seem to link them directly to the birth of Christ, it has been traditionally held that sleigh bells dissuade evil spirits and invite health and well-being.

It is believed that northern peoples decorated their horses with such bells when sleighs became the most efficient mode of transportation. Since a horse drawn sleigh does not stop quickly, the bells warned oncoming riders along narrow, snowy lanes. Soon, fancy, more expensive bells came to symbolize wealth and prestige. Romans adorned their horses with bells during their invasion of northern Europe, apparently for all of these reasons.

The popularity of sleigh bells peaked, worldwide, from the early 1800s until the invention of the automobile. The world’s premier manufacturer of sleigh bells was, and continues to be, the Bevin Manufacturing Company of East Hampton, Connecticut. This is the same company that made the decorative Grace Episcopal Church bells and the Norwich Civil War 150th anniversary bells. By the way, the latter can be purchased for $5 at the Slater Museum.

So, the next time you hear sleigh bells, either in a song, on a toy, or on a sleigh carrying a welcome visitor, know that their ringing embraces the empowerment of peace and good will for all.

CCWCC Endorses Norwich Celebration

The Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Committee has voted it’s official support of Norwich’s 150th anniversary commemoration of the Emancipation Proclamation. In presenting a donation of $1,000 to the EPCC, the satewide organization announced this week that it supports and applauds Norwich’s plans for a major commemoration on January 1, 2013.

A Landmark Day for EPCC

Many thanks to Grace Episcopal Church in Yantic for providing it’s parish hall as the venue for several important meetings that took place on December 8th. The gathering organized by the Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration Committee included representatives of the Verdin Company, churches in Norwich, the Norwich Lions Club, the Connecticut state legislature, and Congressman Joe Courtney’s office. A morning workshop focused on learning how citizens of Connecticut can share in the important commemoration on 1-1-13. After a spectacular lunch catered by La’zizah Restaurant, the afternoon session took up ways in which churches can raise money to make sure their bells ring true and operate safely.

Verdin presented a compelling presentation on the many products and services it makes available to churches around the world. Dan Winthrich, the company vice president, spoke of bells as, “the voice of the church”, while Eastern District Director, Jeff Louis demonstrated several kinds of carillons and showed how bells and chimes benefit both churches and their communities.

“Verdin isn’t here just to make money”, said Kevin Harkins, President of Friends of the Norwich Bells. They truly believe in what we’re doing. They respect the amount of work that’s going into what is already getting national attention, and they’ll tell you straight up, they’re really enjoying being a part of the project.”

The EPCC’s next general meeting for subcommittees and community organizations wanting to work on the commemoration will be at 5 PM on Wednesday, December 14, in room 319 of City Hall. In the mean time, please consider learning more about events being planned by visiting- http://norwichfreedombell.com You may also contact Dale Plummer, who chairs the EPCC, or co-chair, Sheila Hayes, at 860-859-5349.

It is also hoped you will consider putting the Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration on your holiday giving list. While it takes dollars to make something of this magnitude happen, it’s a small commitment when compared to the sacrifice others have made for freedom.

Verdin to Host Seminar for Churches

Many Norwich churches are asking how they can come up with funding to repair their beautiful, historic bells during tough economic times. To help find potential sources of funding, Friends of the Norwich Bells will sponsor a two hour seminar for clergy and church representatives on Thursday, December 8th, at 11 AM, at Grace Episcopal Church in Yantic. Hosted by the Verdin Company the luncheon will be free of charge and will be catered by La’Zizah’s Restaurant. Representatives of Norwich houses of worship should call 860-319-5717 to reserve seating by 5 PM on December 2.

Church bells summon the faithful and celebrate important events, and the lovely music they make is a glorification to God. Hence, most churches recognize bells as integral to the life of their ministry. At the December 8 gathering, Verdin executives will cull from 170 years of experience helping churches around the world to spread their message through the ringing of bells. We suggest two representatives of each church come, gather, and learn with us. There will be no sales pitching and you are under no obligation to utilize the fund raising tools discussed.

Report From Williamsburg Saturday Morning, 11/12

Our envoy has returned from Virginia with a wealth of information to share with the EPCC.

Image caption here

Sheila Hayes wrote this morning-

"… Dale and I have a lot of energy and ideas after spending a wonderful two days and exchanging lots of ideas and time with Jim, Dan, Suzanne, David, Tim and Tommy. We have a lot of work in front of us but we all believe we have assembled a great team in Norwich when June 15th and 16th arrives it will be an event we will all be very proud and excited to have Norwich host the First Mobile Bell Foundry in the State of Connecticut.

Dale and I are very pleased to have represented the Norwich Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration Committee in Williamsburg Va for the Casting and Forging of the 11-11-11 Veterans Bell Tower. We are very very pleased to have the folks from Verdin Co working with us every step of the way as we Cast and Forge the First Bell in Connecticut. What a tremendous honor.


Norwich Freedom Bell Gets World-Wide Press

The November-December issue of the American Bell Association’s Bell Tower Magazine features a full page article about the Emancipation Proclamation Bell. The publication is circulated to the organization’s 1100 members around the globe and an untold number of other subscribers. We are grateful to the ABA for getting behind this project and hope the article will attract considerable interest while appealing to the generosity of bell enthusiasts internationally.

Our New Phone Number, 860-319-5717

Effective immediately, our new, local phone number replaces the old toll-free line. We are confident the new phone system will help us communicate better with our many friends while enhancing our local presence in the community. The new service, offered by American Voice Mail, restores some flexibility lost when our toll-free line migrated to E-voice a couple of weeks ago after a corporate buy-out. We can once again pick up messages from anywhere, including via email, and the new services is even capable of receiving faxes. If you left a message for us on the “866” line in the last few weeks, it is possible that we did not receive it. We apologize for this, and hope you will call again.

St. Mary’s Bell Silenced

It always saddens us to report on a bell that doesn’t ring. But news is news, and residents of the Greenville section hope the bell at St. Mary’s Catholic Church will sound again soon. The church says the ringing mechanism hasn’t worked for several weeks now, and the bell cannot be rung by hand. It is believed that the last maintenance on it was done about thirty-three years ago. It is hoped the historic bell can be fixed in time to be recorded for our Ring Out Rose City CD, and so St. Mary’s can participate in the city-wide ringing of bells honoring the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 2013.

To learn more about the bell atop St. Mary’s Church, visit our, “Bells of Norwich”, page.

NPU to Donate Propane for Casting

Norwich Public Utilities has agreed to donate the 500 pounds of propane needed for the casting of the Emancipation Proclamation Bell in June of 2012. The Verdin Company says that, at all the casts they’ve done with their mobile bell foundry around the country, they’ve never had to pay for propane. The utility company’s generous contribution to the event to take place in Brown Park on June 15 & 16 illustrates growing community support for the first bell to honor that pivotal event in U.S. history being cast and hung here in Norwich.

Norwich to be represented at Virginia Casting

NAACP Education Coordinator, Shiela Hayes and city historian, Dale Plummer will be in Williamsburg, Virginia to witness the 11-11-11 casting and dedication of a Veteran’s Tribute Bell. The bell will be a product of the Verdin Company’s mobile bell foundry, the only foundry on wheels in the world, which will be coming to Norwich next year to cast the Norwich Freedom Bell. The thirty-two foot tower will be located in the city’s New Town district and will include a clock and carillon system. Hayes and Plummer, both on the Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration Committee will be video taping, talking to Williamsburg officials, and learning first hand, how these events come together.

To learn more about the Williamsburg event, visit vavetstribute.org/tower.htm –

Very Spooky Cemetery Walk
Residents of the Yantic Cemetery Rise to the Occasion

This fun fund raiser is family friendly.

Enjoy a respectful, informative and enchantingly spooky visit to the old Yantic Cemetery lead by city historian Dale Plummer. Volunteers will play the part of some of the most noted occupants of this treasured place.

Bring your old, unwanted eye glasses and win a prize.

The event benefits the Norwich Lions Club and Friends of the Norwich Bells. You’ll be giving the gift of vision to the needy in our community and supporting The Norwich Freedom Bell.

Friday, October 28 at 6 PM

Tickets can be purchased at Utley and Jones Pharmacy, located at 112 Lafayette Street-
$10 Adults
$5 Kids
$3 Children 4 years and under

“See Harry Potter’s Grave”

Phone Glitch to be Fixed Shortly

Our former service provider has been bought out by E-voice, and the switch over took affect Wednesday. Some software issues are being addressed. In the meantime, you can still press, “0”, to leave a message or speak with someone, if we’re in. Thank you for your patience.

Norwich Freedom Bell Takes Big Step Forward

As enthusiasm grows for the project that will erect the nation’s first tower bell honoring the Emancipation Proclamation right here in Norwich, the city council has given a big, “thumbs up”. With several council members speaking in robust support of the project, a resolution passed on Monday, October 17 makes the Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration Committee an official city entity. This has several important, positive legal and logistical effects on the committee’s work and events surrounding the 150th anniversary celebration.

Be sure to visit, http://norwichfreedombell.com For all the latest information.

Here are updated instructions for those wishing to make much needed tax-deductible donations to the $100,000 project.

Checks should be made payable to- “City of Norwich EPCC”.

Checks should be mailed to- “EPCC Finance Department . 100 Broadway . Norwich, CT. 06360”.

EPCC Gets Monthly Slot on “Community Friends”

Starting Tuesday night, Deb Keivitz’s Community Friends TV show will feature a once-a-month half hour visit with the Emancipation Proclamation Commemorative Committee. The purpose of the segment is to educate the public about the project and to encourage private donations. The segment airs at 7-30 PM on the first two Tuesday evenings of each month, on Norwich Public Access Channel 14, starting this week.

Ponema Bell To Ring Again

Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom has advised Friends of the Norwich Bells that Onekey, LLC, has agreed that the old Taftville mill bell should be rung in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 2013. But, will anybody hear it? Nystrom says he is very hopeful that the tower can once again be opened up as it originally was, allowing the call of the mighty bell to once again ring out across the Shetucket Valley.

Onekey, LLC, is currently renovating the old five-story mill to include 235 market rate duplex apartments. With 14-foot ceilings and mezzanines for the fourth and fifth stories, the project will total 290 thousand square feet.

Perhaps, once again, the mighty old bell will ring to denote important historic events, just as it summoned textile workers for generations. To learn more about this great bell, visit our Bells of Norwich Page.

The Ponema Mill Bell will be included on our Ring Out Rose City CD, along with the bell aboard, “Black Beauty”, the name affectionately given the mill’s old trolley car, currently being restored at the Connecticut Trolley Museum.

Hot Coco Anyone?

We will be joining the Norwich Lions Club for the annual street ringing in front of the Leffingwell House Museum on Sat., October 15, from noon to 6 PM. The hot coco contest inside will raise money for the Lions, and visitors can sample other goodies and tour this historic old inn. This is an incredible amount of fun. So stop in and ring with us for a little while. You can bring your own hand bell or ring one of ours. Bring a smile or we’ll have plenty of extras.. At the intersection of Washington Street and the Rt. 2 connector, across from Backus Hospital.

NECABA Semi Annual Meeting Merrimack, NH Sept. 24

For driving directions, visit the calendar at the top of this page. If you’d like to car pool with us, give a call. A great time is guaranteed!

Bells In The Wind

Hurricane Gloria struck southern New England in 1985, and it was no surprise when the lights went out at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Broadway in Norwich. The problem was, according to organist Doug Green, there was a wedding scheduled for that day, and the organ wouldn’t play without electricity. Green says he and the monsignor grabbed four of the bell choir’s bells and made up a wedding march comprised of only the four notes that could sound from the four bells. The scheme worked. The marriage went off without a hitch… accept, of course, for the lovely bride and handsome groom that got hitched up. Apparently, the Lord doesn’t just work in mysterious ways. He also works during hurricanes.

City to Ring Bells on September 11

Churches, other organizations, and private citizens of Norwich are being asked to ring bells for one minute at 1 PM on Sunday, September 11, in observance of a National Moment of Remembrance. Friends of the Norwich Bells is advocating all who are able to ring a bell to remember and honor those who died ten years ago in the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and in southwestern Pennsylvania.

September 11 was officially recognized as a National Day of Service and Remembrance by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, passed with strong bipartisan support and signed into law by President Obama in April, 2009. On July 22, 2011, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution setting aside a National Moment of Remembrance, at 1 PM Eastern Daylight Time on September 11. It calls on state and local governments, media, houses of worship, military and veteran organizations, airports and railroads, sports teams, businesses and individuals to cease all work or other activity for one minute and mark the moment in an appropriate manner, such as by ringing bells or sounding sirens.

“Bells help us to remember”, said Kevin Harkins, President of Friends of the Norwich Bells, a not-for-profit community group for the promotion, preservation and enjoyment of bell ringing in the city. “Sometimes, bells can, even in small ways, help us to heal”, Harkins added. “We must never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice that day. We must not forget those who live with those gut wrenching memories every single day.” All persons, businesses, and houses of worship that can are invited to ring bells, large or small, for one minute, beginning at 1 o’clock on Sunday afternoon. Radio and televisions stations are urged to consider broadcasting the ringing of bells either live or recorded, at that moment.

The city of Norwich will hold official ceremonies marking the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy at 7 PM on September 11, at the Kelly Middle School, located at 25 Megan Drive. The public is encouraged to attend.

You’re Invited to Our September 17 Meeting

The public is cordially welcome at our Annual Meeting, Saturday, September 17, at 12 noon. The gathering will take place in the parish hall at Grace Episcopal Church, 4 Chapel Hill Rd. in Yantic, CT. 06389. Participate in the short business meeting, enjoy refreshments, and take in a special program.

All persons with an interest in anything bells is warmly invited. Catch up on what’s going on, ask questions and talk about bells, make new friends, and learn about how audio recordings of bells are made. Kevin Harkins will give a presentation on what goes into making a digital recording of bells and the process of publishing a CD of these beautiful recordings. Ring Out Rose City, a collection of the sounds of many of Norwich’s bells is slated for release in the fall of 2012.

Please become a member! The meeting is a perfect opportunity to join Friends of the Norwich Bells. $15 a year goes a long way toward helping us meet the expenses of what we do.

We’ll see you in Yantic on Sept. 17, from noon to 2 PM.

Freedom Bell Now Has It’s Own Website

Visit the link on this page to visit The Norwich Freedom Bell. Keep up on breaking news about the project and find out how to make a tax-deductible donation.

City Council Endorses Commemoration

The Norwich City Council voted unanimously tonight to issue the following resolution.

Whereas, President Abraham Lincoln, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States of America, issued a proclamation of emancipation of those persons held as slaves in the rebelling Southern states on January 1, 1863;


Whereas, the Mayor of Norwich, James Lloyd Greene, did then order the pealing of the church bells of Norwich and a 100 gun cannon salute to celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation;


Whereas the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation will be on January 1, 2013;


Whereas, a citizen’s committee has been formed to mark the occasion with appropriate ceremony, including the casting of a commemorative bell at the Juneteenth celebration in 2012;

Now, therefore, the Mayor and City Council of the Town and City of Norwich, Connecticut, do resolve to endorse the 150th celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation, and to support the commemorative activities planned around the anniversary of this glorious event, one of the most momentous in the history of our nation.

Join Us For Norwich Night Out, August 2

Sponsored by the Norwich Police Department, the community gathering is part of a national movement to raise awareness of crime prevention and nurturing our neighborhoods. Stop by the Shop right Plaza on Tuesday evening, August 2nd and let your neighbors know you care. And don’t forget to visit the EPCC table, where there will be educational materials for kids, pictures of a community bell casting and a bell everybody can ring for our city. Committee members will be on hand to give out information about Norwich’s Freedom Bell, to be cast next June right here in the city.

Remember, your generous contributions are needed to help us raise the $100,000 for the bell and tower to be permanently situated in Downtown Norwich. What’s more, the entire family can participate in our, “Lincolns & Lincolns” drive. Every penny and every $5 bill will bring us closer to the day that “freedom will ring”, in Norwich, Conn.


Image caption here

A Veterans Tribute Towers

July 13th marked a successful start to a host of events leading up to the Jan. 1, 2013 citywide commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

During a morning meeting at Central Baptist Church to discuss inspection of and repairs to the city’s many tower bells, the Verdin Company explained ways in which the project could actually be used as a fund raising opportunity for churches, pointing out that substantial grants may be available for bell restorations.

At a noon luncheon at city hall, the EPCC, Verdin Co. executives, the mayor, city manager, and architect covered much ground, and made final preparations for the evening’s event. Here, it was decided that getting the city’s tower bells ready for the big “150th”, ringing would fall to the pervue of Friends of the Norwich Bells, allowing the EPCC to focus on the, “Forever Free”, bell and related events.

Dale Plummer and Peter Nystrum’s appearance on W.I.C.H. Radio the day before drew excitement about the evenings public gathering, which was well attended by city council members, the press and the general public. The EPCC will meet next week to plan events for the coming fall and winter.

The Forever Free bell is scheduled to be cast in Norwich on the weekend of Juneteenth, 2012. It will be the first tower bell ever cast in the state of Connecticut. It’s location is still being decided, and public input is welcome.

The project will cost $100,000, and tax-deductible donations are being thankfully received. Checks should be made payable to, “National NAACP”, with the words, “E P Bell”, in the memo portion of the check. Contributions should be mailed to, Norwich NAACP, PO Box 24, Norwich, CT. 06360

For more information, check out our FREEDOM WILL RING page.

White House Confirms Request to Ring Bell

A spokesperson for the Obama administration has confirmed that the White House has received a request for President Obama to come to Norwich, CT. and ring the Forever Free Bell on January 1, 2013. Shiela Hayes, Education Coordinator for the Norwich Branch of the NAACP says the administration staffer indicated they would not be able to act on the request until three months prior to the date. Hayes sits on the Emancipation Proclamation Commemorative Committee, which has been working with the Connecticut congressional delegation to submit the formal request. It is not known whether President Obama has been personally made aware of the event.

It is hoped that the National NAACP will endorse the Emancipation Proclamation Bell project at it’s convention in California in August. The organization’s Norwich Branch will also celebrate it’s fiftieth anniversary beginning on January 1, ’13.

E P Bell Could Be First Ever

Our research has failed to turn up any cases where a tower bell has been cast, commissioned, and utilized specifically to honor the Emancipation Proclamation. Could Norwich’s Forever Free Bell be the first anywhere?

Carl Scott Zimmerman of St. Louis, MO., is widely believed to be the world’s leading authority on large bells. On June 29, Mr. Zimmerman wrote in a response to an email from FNB President, Kevin Harkins, “Kevin, I'm not aware of any other bell made to honor the Emancipation Proclamation.”

Where better than in Norwich, Connecticut?

Listen to Freedom Ringing

To hear a recording of what the Norwich Freedom Bell will sound like, go to the links at the top of the page. This is a recording sent to us by the Verdin Company. It’s quite beautiful.

Where Would You Like The Freedom Bell To Be Hung?

Give us your feedback!

This is your bell!

The Emancipation Proclamation Commemorative Committee wants to hear from you about where you think the, “Forever Free”, bell should be permanently located. It is essential that we determine where the bell will be placed so that the architect can design an esthetically appropriate structure for the bell, and so necessary city review and zoning permits can be obtained. Please help by giving us your opinion.

The two hundred fifty five pound bronze bell will be mounted in a handsome, well-engineered structure, and will be hung approximately thirteen feet off the ground. A locking mechanism will insure that it will only be rung when authorized.

Where do you want to see the bell situated? Some have suggested it stand in front of city hall, in Franklin Square, or at Howard T. Brown Park.

Please email your thoughts on this to, freedom1863@hotmail.com Or, you can call 866-297-8521 to speak with someone or leave a message.

Freedom Will Ring throughout Norwich, and your input is very important to us.

Many Thanks:

Norwich Bells Heard Around The World

The American Bell Association’s, Bell Tower magazine, distributed around the globe, has printed Kevin Harkins’s poem, “To The Bell”, in it’s July-August edition. You can read the poem on our home page.

Harkins says he’s thrilled to, “be published internationally”, recalling, “I had a fiction story published in the Orange County Register way back in 1971, but this is just incredible!”

The Bell Tower editorial staff has also been following, closely, work on Norwich’s Emancipation Proclamation Bell project.

Why Ring Bells?

Bells make people happy. Bells remember. They tell stories. They are not only beautiful and come in many shapes and sizes and of different construction, but they are both interesting and respectful.

To learn how the ringing of bells might punctuate your organization’s special event, bring comfort to the bedside of a sick friend, delight a child’s birthday party, or pay proper homage to an important person or event, please give as a call.

Verdin Co. to Help Norwich Churches

In a May 29th letter to members of the Norwich Area Clergy Association, Rev. Greg Perry of Greenville Congregational Church says the Verdin Company has offered to inspect church bells throughout the city and give owners a free recommendation on any repairs needed. Verdin has also agreed to make reasonable pricing available to all houses of worship in the city for it’s services, in anticipation of the January 1, 2013, one hour ringing of bells commemorating the Emancipation Proclamation.

Clergy may contact Rev. Perry or Dale Plummer for any additional information.

FNB President Accepts NECABA Appointment
(May 16, ’11)

Kevin Harkins has gratefully taken an appointment by Jen Whitlock, incoming chairperson of the New England Chapter American Bell Association, on the organization’s Executive Board.

Whitlock said she was eager to have the input of new blood on the governing body. Harkins will serve as a board member at large. His duties will focus on attending meetings twice a year and performing other functions at the pleasure of the chair.

In accepting the appointment over this past weekend, Harkins said he was flattered at the invitation to serve such a worthy group. “I think this is another feather in the cap of Friends of the Norwich Bells”, Harkins added.

Weekend of Bells A Resounding Success

As the ten bells of London’s Westminster Abbey rang a full peal of over 5000 changes, lasting three hours, announcing the marriage of William and Kate, plans for another exciting event were rushed to completion on the other side of the Atlantic. At Grace Episcopal Church in Yantic, CT., tables were being set, walk ways swept and grounds raked, Food was prepared while the ladies of the parish made decorative green sprays to serve as center peaces at Saturday’s New England Chapter of the American Bell Association International INC. 97th semi annual meeting. It was a classic Norwich, Connecticut welcome that was enjoyed by dozens of bell enthusiasts from as far away as Florida, and it all came off without a hitch.

That is, unless you have a problem with Kevin Harkins directing traffic on Chapel Hill. Harkins is totally blind. “At one point I found myself between two lanes of traffic going in opposite directions. That’s when I decided to go get John”, said the 56-year-old president of Friends of the Norwich Bells. John Baldwin, a church member, was in the parish hall showing some visitors a power-point presentation on the history of the parish.

In the fellowship hall, there were sales tables and displays of every type of collectable bell. One member set up a display of bells commemorating the bicentennial of the United States. At the New England Ringers table, city historian Dale Plummer clutched two hand bells in each hand as he received instruction on bell choir ringing. The NECABA executive board met in the church’s archive room, then the general meeting was called to order, and members and visitors were introduced by state.

There was a video presentation by Friends of the Norwich Bells showing the many tower bells throughout the city. Just after noon, Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom addressed the gathering, presenting outgoing NECABA Chairman, Richard Bardkus with a proclamation making April 30, 2011, American Bell Association Day throughout the city. The ceremony was followed by the Westminster Peal of bells from the church’s bell tower, as Grace Church’s William H. Small demonstrated change ringing of the four tuned bells that have rung out across the village of Yantic since 1923.

Lunch was a magnificent spread of cold cuts, cheeses and breads for sandwiches, fresh garden salad, a delightful pasta dish, chips, and an array of cookies and soft drinks, laid out by the church. Kevin Montague of Boston sold raffle tickets as members and visitors bought and sold bells, CD’s, and other keepsakes. Then, all settled in for a lively discussion about bells. After a bell raffle, there was a ceremony inducting the chapter’s incoming officers. As the day’s activities came to a close, one member announced that he needed a ride to Worcester, Mass. To catch a train, and three people offer him a lift.

“It’s the way it works when good people get together to learn and have fun”, said Kevin Harkins at the close of the day. “One lady called from her cell phone as the church was being locked up for the evening. She had gotten as far as Hartford when she realized she had left a valuable painting leaning against one wall of the hall. It was no problem. When the member returned to the church forty minutes later, a parishioner was there to make sure she got her artwork back, safe and sound”, said Harkins.

But, it didn’t end there. The next morning, at the conclusion of the Sunday worship service, Grace Episcopal Church was presented with a grant for $800 from the American Bell Association to help with emergency repairs to it’s bell tower, damaged in early Spring storms of 2010. And, we have been told that, The Bell Tower, a worldwide publication put out by ABA, will likely be doing a major feature story about Norwich, CT., in an upcoming issue.

Congratulations to the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge… and congratulations to the people of Norwich, Connecticut on a job well done. Special thanks to the local news media, and to the Norwich Historical Society for all the publicity.

The Reverend Peter D’Alesandre, Vicar of Grace Church, summed it up in two words, Sunday morning.

“Good Goin!”

(Kevin Harkins)

(left to right) Bartkus, Harkins, and The Mayor

(Bicentenniel Bells Varian)

Field Recording Season Starts On Easter

We are officially declaring it, “Open Season”, for recording bells, starting at midnight, Easter Morning, April 24. To celebrate, we will be recording the bells at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church at midnight, as they ring out to tell the night of the Resurrection of Christ.

With the push of a button, what is sure to be an extremely busy year of field recording will begin. We want to have all the recordings for the CD done by October 31.

Now is a perfect time to let us know if there are bells, great or small, that you think we’d like to document, photograph, and record. If it’s a bell, it lives in Norwich, and it sounds nice or has a compelling story, please tell us about it. Use the, “Submit A Bell”, link at the top of this page, or give us a, “ring”, at… 866-297-8521 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Buy Our Civil War Bells

Now, these handsome little bells on a key chain are available for purchase on Ebay, and your contribution will support the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation on 1-1-13, in Norwich. These bells have a charming little ring to them, are white on navy blue, and were manufactured for us by Bevin Bells in East Hampton, CT.

To see one of these limited edition and very practical keep-sakes and make a purchase, go to the, “Learn More”, section at the top of this page, where you’ll find a link to, “Buy Civil War 150th Bell”.

Thanks to Dianne Brown, secretary of the Norwich Historical Society, for setting this up for us. Remember, these attractive little key chain & bells make a nice gift, too.

Mayor To Proclaim April 30 Bell Day

Mayor Peter Nystrom’s office has confirmed that His Honor plants to be at the NECABA meeting at noon on April 30, to deliver, in person, a proclamation welcoming the American Bell Association International INC. to Norwich. April 30 will be a special day throughout our city.

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office said, “Peter loves the bell ringers. He loves bells and he loves history.”

We are heartened by the warm welcome our city plans to give its new friends.

Become A Member

To join Friends of the Norwich Bells, please visit the link at the top of this page titled, “Membership Application”. Download and print the form, complete it and mail with your payment of dews to- Friends of the Norwich Bells . 25 Broadway, No. 204 . Norwich, CT. 06360

Members have full voting privileges in the organization, receive an annual newsletter, and enjoy benefits of membership normally reserved for members.

NECABA Registration Deadline Extended

Pre-registration for the NECABA Spring meeting in Norwich has been pushed forward to April 20.

NECABA Meeting Registration Form

Pre-registration for the NECABA Spring, 2011 Meeting, to be held April 30, here in Norwich, is recommended, and should be mailed by April 10 to insure timely receipt. Print and complete the form and mail along with your check to the address as the top of the form. Registration is $13 per person and includes lunch. Lunch will include a build-your-own cold cut sandwich, fresh garden salad, a cold pasta dish and chips, with a light dessert treat.

Go to the link at the top of this page titled, "NECABA Meeting Registration...", to obtain the form.

Civil War Show A Success

We want to thank all those who stopped by our table at the Civil War Memorabilia Show on 3-12. It was great to see some old friends and make so many new ones. The event was well worth our while and Guns of Norwich did an excellent job of putting the hole thing together.

FNB Considering ABA Affiliation

At it’s March 9 meeting, the Board of Directors of Friends of the Norwich Bells agreed to study potential chapter affiliation with the American Bell Association International INC. The board is scheduled to vote on the proposal at a special meeting to take place around the beginning of May, at which it will also discuss plans for the 2013 Emancipation Proclamation Celebration.

Verdin Company Executives to Tour Norwich

On March 11, Verdin Bell Company executives will be in Norwich, meeting with representatives of Friends of the Norwich Bells, the Norwich Historical Society, and the Norwich branch of The NAACP. Conversations will be about Norwich’s Emancipation Proclamation Commemoration, being planned for 2013. The Verdin Company of Cincinnati, Ohio is respected worldwide as manufacturers of many of the finest tower bells, digital clocks, carillons, and monuments. Our esteemed guests will survey the over-all condition of bells in Norwich, as we prepare for a one-hour-long bell ringing on 1-1-13. The event will honor the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, as part of many festivities being considered.

The Verdin Company is no stranger to Norwich. Over the years, they have worked on more than half a dozen-bell installations here, including the Verdin Carillon at Park Congregational Church. Jim Verdin, President, has been in extensive consultation with Dale Plummer, Norwich Historian and Vice President of Friends of the Norwich Bells for more than a month. Upon receiving a DVD depicting much of the work we’ve been doing, Mr. Verdin notified us Thursday, that his company is very interested in what we’re planning, and wants to help.

N.E.C.A.B.A. Meeting, April 30

Plans have been completed for Norwich to host the semi-annual meeting of The New England Chapter of the American Bell Association International INC on Saturday, April 30th. The event will take place at Grace Episcopal Church, on Chapel Hill Rd. across from the Yantic Post Office, from 9 AM to 4 PM. Registration for those attending is $13, and must be received no later than April 20.

Participants will enjoy refreshments and socializing, while taking in displays of bells of every kind. The organization’s board of directors will meet in the morning, followed by the general meeting at 11 o’clock. Lunch will be served around 12-15, preceded by ringing of the church’s bells. Grace Church is one of only two locations in Connecticut still practicing the ancient custom of, “change ringing”. The afternoon will feature a raffle and a special program. Bells will also be available for sale.

Sponsored by Friends of the Norwich Bells, this will be the first time the American Bell Association has held an event in Norwich. N.E.C.A.B.A. is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year.

“We are thrilled to welcome the A.B.A. to Norwich”, said Mayer Peter Nystrom, Saturday, upon learning that plans had been firmed up.

Church members will serve lunch and refreshments, and tours of the church and bell tower will be offered during the lunch break.

Acorn Acres in Bozrah is providing RV accommodations at special discounted rates the last weekend in April for A.B.A. members who will be attending from as far away as Maine and Pennsylvania.

Guns & Bells

Friends of the Norwich Bells invites all to visit us at the Guns of Norwich Civil War Memorabilia Show, Saturday, March 12, at the Knights of Columbus Home, 47 South 2nd Avenue in Taftville. See bells on display, buy bells, hear some of Norwich’s greatest bells ringing, sign up for membership, and find out what we’re all about!

City Gets It’s Clock Cleaned
February 19

The bell in the tower of the Norwich City Hall is ringing again after falling silent for many weeks. The problem is reported to have been with the clock mechanism. But now the mighty bell tolls each hour, and no longer strikes seven times at 1 AM as had been the case for over a year.

Emancipation Proclamation Commemorative Committee Holds 1st Meeting

A small group met downtown on February 11th to discuss formation of the leadership committee that will spear head planning, fundraising, and events leading up to the January 1, 2013 citywide commemoration. This committee plans to dovetail with the Sesquicentennial Civil War celebrations throughout Norwich, while promoting and coordinating the honoring of what is an extremely important event in Norwich’s history and character, and that of our nation.

The next 150th Civil War celebration planning meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 1, at 6-00 PM, in room 210 of Norwich City Hall. There is a link at the top of this page where you can learn more. The EPCC plans to meet the following evening.


Please be patient with us as we continue to explore options for making this site better. We’re having some problems uploading more audio files so you can enjoy the sounds of many of our city’s bells. We’re also having trouble getting links to work from within articles on the page. Mark, Kevin and others are working hard on finding a user-friendly solution. We will prevail. Thanks for understanding.


. . . . . . . . . . .
N.E.C.A.B.A. to Hold Spring, 2011 Meeting in Norwich!

Dick Bartkus, Chairman of the New England Chapter of The American Bell Association has notified Friends of the Norwich Bells that his organization has accepted our invitation to hold their April 30, 2011 gathering in Norwich, CT. The event will take place on the last Saturday in April at Grace Episcopal Church in Yantic. We are thrilled and honored at this news. Look for more information in the next couple of months. This will be the first time ever that the American Bell Association has held an event in, or interacted with Norwich, CT., and a great welcome awaits them..

Help The Salvation Army

Discover the history of the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle program and just how important it is to your community. Go to the, “Learn More”, section at the top of this page, and maybe you will want to volunteer to ring a bell for those in need.

Robert Humphrey, 29, of Broad Street in Norwich rings the Salvation Army bell outside the Norwichtown Stop & Shop. A couple of weeks ago, Robert was manning a red kettle up in Maine, so the brisk 34 degree breeze that made our stereo microphone feel more like an icicle was of little consequence to him. At 5 o’clock, an employee of The Dime Bank will take over, but Robert and thousands like him across the country will be ringing every day except for Sundays, from now until Christmas.

download Salvation

November Notes

As any good New England meteorologist will tell you, November calm does not mean that there isn’t a lot going on. Likewise, the lack of a lot of current updates on the website doesn’t mean that bell’s aren’t ringing.

The November 18th Community Interfaith Thanksgiving held at Central Baptist Church makes it official… the holidays are here. So, naturally, there’s a lot happening around town and in our lives.

Work on the Emancipation Proclamation Celebration in 2013 is moving forward, with the Norwich Historical Society, Norwich Free Academy, The Norwich Bulletin, Friends of the Norwich Bells, and many other community organizations busy with planning the citywide gala.

We are extremely grateful to the Norwich Historical Society for taking us under their wing, so that we may move forward with financial and fund raising matters in compliance with 501C3 tax-exempt regulations. It is clear from our statement of mission and the work we have done thus far, that the two organizations share many of the same goals.

On the 16th, Grace Episcopal Church received a shipment of beautiful, decorative bells from Bevin Brothers in East Hampton. The bells are ideal for display or hanging on a Christmas tree. Friends of the Norwich Bells donated 111 bells to the church in hopes their sale would help it’s $70,000 capital fund drive for restoration of the bell tower and roof.

Recording and photographing bells throughout the city for our CD continues. Meanwhile, we are working on organizing book keeping and planning fund raising. Our next regular meeting will be in early 2011. We are also hoping to bring the New England Chapter of The American Bell Association to Norwich for it’s April 30, 2011 convention. It’s coming together, so hope for some good news at the beginning of the year.

And it’s almost time for our first annual FNB Newsletter, so start writing those articles and collecting photos and other information you’d like to share. We still need a name for the newsletter. Use the contact form here on the website, or call, 866-297-8521 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting, and let us know if you have a great idea for a name.

Give thanks by giving! More people are struggling to get bye than have in recent years. Your love is a precious thing to many people in our community. Remember, true happiness comes from a charitable heart. What you have to offer may not seem like much to you, but to someone else, it is priceless.

Friends of the Norwich Bells Unveils It’s Logo

Artist, Scott Baldwin, has done a phenomenal job on our logo, which clearly gives a feel for our organization and our mission. Please let us know what you think!

Baldwin, a Norwich native and graduate of Norwich Free Academy holds an art degree from the University of Connecticut. He flourishes in a wide variety of genres and creative environments, with an emphasis on printing. “Where did you find this guy”, people ask after seeing his work. Scott is a gifted perfectionist in his vocation, skilled at presenting just the right image, statement, or expression. From an abiding interest in the up and coming generation of local artists and his reputation for creating beautiful event announcements and invitations, to designing posters, logos, and other meaningful marketing tools for a growing number of local organizations, his talents are well worth checking out.

You will find a link to email Scott at the top of this page, under, “Members List”.

Norwich’s First Ever Street Ringing

We had no idea how much fun this was actually going to turn out to be. On October 16th, the Norwich Lions Club and Friends of the Norwich Bells cosponsored the ringing of hand bells in front of the Leffingwell House Museum, as an invitation to all to come to the museum’s Fall Festival. At one point, we had eight or nine people ringing… guys, ladies, and children. And they all said the same thing. “Wow, this is a lot of fun!” We created neat rhythms, and discovered the new sound that comes from some bells when rung upside down. We even had people pulling off the road, getting out of their cars, and asking of they could ring a bell for a while.

We also learned what a work out bell ringing can be. When you ring one or more bells for three hours in a four-hour period, you really start to notice your arms, shoulders, wrists and even fingers. Who’d ever think that bell ringing could be such an uplifting community event… and goodness, it’s so good for you, too.

Perhaps, “ringing in the streets”, will be come a Norwich custom. Wonder if we should think about some sort of, “Street Ringing”, for Christmas Eve.

The Leffingwell House sign

Mike Fox, Thom Keaney, Denise Williams, (Lion's Members) & Kevin

Grace Church Begins Extensive Repairs

Grace Episcopal Church in Yantic says urgent restoration of it’s bell tower and parish hall roof has begun, following severe damage from major storms earlier this year. The church’s pipe organ, one of the largest in eastern Connecticut was also damaged. Repairs to the bell tower alone will cost 50 thousand dollars.

The historic church building, known for it’s stunning gothic architecture and beautiful interior and windows was built in 1901. All the stones for the building were carried from a local farm, and the work was done by parish members and community volunteers. Members raised funds for construction of the church after the congregation out grew the small wood chapel down the hill. William W. Backus was a major contributor to the construction, which was completed the following year.

The church and it’s historic connection to the city of Norwich are the subject of several chapters in books written by the late Bill Stanley. Dale Plummer, city historian and vice president of Friends of the Norwich Bells has proclaimed it one of the most beautiful buildings in eastern Connecticut.

The work, to be done by the Richard Hepp Construction Company, will be completed in the Spring of 2011. It represents an astronomical financial commitment for the small congregation of about 50 adult members, and we are appealing to the good nature and generosity of the people of Norwich to help them meet this expense.

Contributions may be made to, “Grace Church Capital Fund”, P.O. Box 126, Yantic, CT 06389.

The church is located across from the Yantic Post Office.

For more information, contact the church at, 860-887-2082 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting or, John Baldwin, at, 860-887-9145. You may also visit their website at, http://gracechurchyantic.org.

NECABA Convention a Big Success

Several of our members attended the New England Chapter of the American Bell Associations Fall Convention in Amesbury, MA. on Sept. 25. All had a great time and made some wonderful new friends. Kevin returned home with about 20 new bells to add to his collection. We are working on a proposal to host their April 2011 gathering here in Norwich. We’ll keep everyone posted.

Friends of the Norwich Bells September Meeting

Our September 18th meeting was extremely productive. After a review of the summer’s activities and discussion about financial matters, local artist, Scott Baldwin, gave a presentation on his work developing our logo. We are truly impressed with were he’s going on this, and look forward to unveiling it some time in late October. We will probably amend our meeting time to better convenience all that would like to attend, so watch for an announcement soon.

A Busy July

The Board of Directors conducted it’s first meeting on June 30th, where a lot of and bolts things got accomplished. Four members visited Bevin Manufacturing up in East Hampton, CT., on the 8th. We brought home a lot of good information, and Kevin bought a 6 inch steal gong, which he demonstrated on the 13th, when he and Dale were guests on the Community Friends TV show on the public access channel. We recorded the Greenville Fire House bell,. We recorded the bell at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Ockum, but were dashed once again by the Yantic winds, which seem to blow every time the Grace Church bells are rung. (Take 5, soon.)

On Friday, the 9th, we captured the big one we’ve been so excited about… the bell in the Ponemah Mill. The Taftville Fire Department lit up the dark tower interior for photographing and had the rescue truck standing by while Dale, Dave, Chief Jenks, and a couple of his fire fighters joined in the climb and photographing the mighty F. Fuller bell. Then, in what seemed a profound tribute to the thousands for which this mill had been life for over a century, fire fighters, a newspaper reporter, a photographer and the mill’s security guard stood, silently, as Dale rang the mighty bell and Kevin recorded it for the CD.

Our Facebook page is officially up and running. Kevin got his name in, The Bell Tower, as a new member of the American Bell Association. We will be speaking at 10 AM on Sunday, July 18, at the Greenville Congregational Church and recording parishioners’ bells. On the 19th, we will be at City Hall, meeting with the Civil War Commemorative Committee, about the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. A presentation for the Rotary Club and a stint on Stu Breyer’s radio show are also in the works.

Happy summer!

Meeting, June 19

Our June get together was small. Summer has begun to serve up festivals and outdoor events, and the 19th marked the beginning of the first annual Jane Austen Week in Norwich. Father’s Day weekend may not be the best time for meetings. Yet, there was much to go over as community response to our mission continues to build. Our founding Board of Directors was seated as follows-

Kevin Harkins – President Dale Plummer – Vice President, Research Director Miriam Mills – Administrator David Oat – Historical Photographer, Researcher Richard Hamar – Technical Advisor

The board will hold it’s first meeting on June 30th, where it’s work will focus on leadership development, bylaws and articles of incorporation, and outlining work to be done over the next two years.

Dale and Kevin will be speaking at the Greenville Congregational Church on Sunday, July 18. Parishioners who own bells made from the church’s original tower bell, are asked to bring them for recording and photographing.

We are looking for a spot for our membership picnic in late September or early October.

Our next general meeting will be on Saturday, September 18th.

Ringing Out The Class Of 2010

To participate in a tradition that goes back longer than anyone can recall, and to witness how deeply Principal Scott Fain, cares for the children at his Wequonnoc School in Taftville, gives one pause. 15 students from Pre-K to 5th grade who had perfect attendance at school through the last year paraded joyfully through the hall’s ringing the historic old hand bell. One third grader rang the, “School’s out for summer”, bell for her sixth consecutive year. Behind the proud pupils, Mr. Fain greeted and congratulated the kids. As the procession grew, representatives of the Norwich Historical Society, Friends of the Norwich Bells, and Taftville Fire Chief, Timothy Jencks joined in.

“Nobody knows exactly how the custom got started”, said Jencks.

On the last day of school, students with perfect attendance for the year get to ring the big old hand bell and walk out of school for summer vacation, the first to be dismissed.

Just the recording itself will put a lump in your throat. The happy sounds are to be included in the Norwich Bells cd, scheduled for release late next year.

Principal Scott Fain (outside school) ringing the bell with kids.
A student with perfect attendance gets to ring the bell on the last day of school.
Here’s a list of this years students:Timothy, Gabriel, Jacob, Angelina, Wessun, Xavier, Meadow, Adrian, Guercie, Rose, Tamijah, Sariah,Jenifer, and Erica.

Microphones Are Our Ears

The next time you’re down at the sea shore, find a sea shell, and, as we’ve all done since we were kids, take it home, and hold it to your ear. What do you hear? The seashore? Perhaps, in a very esoteric way. But, what you actually hear is two things. You'll likely here the subtle sound of your body pumping blood through your head. But, you also are hearing the culmination of any ambient sound around you, being funneled to your ear, as a faint, “swooshing”, or “hissing”, sound. Many sounds in your environment are coming in through the opening of the shell and bouncing off the various interior surfaces… (A sort of, artificial, exterior ear). And, yes, you will hear the many frequencies of sound like those the seashore makes.

the same thing can happen with microphones. The Town Street section of Norwich is heavily traveled by all manner of motor vehicle. The parish house of the First Congregational Church, along with the church building itself, forms a welcome buffer to the traffic noise when trying to record the bells. But, coupled with the stonewall in back, that helps hold Meeting House Rock up from sliding down in the Spring New England rains, a kind of funnel is formed, like a sea shell. It was the fourth or fifth recording spot we tried. We had a perfect place behind United Family Services. We even contacted them and got permission to set up in their parking lot at midnight. Only, the cleaning crew was working late. It was a sultry early summer evening, and air conditioners were whirring.

we got a good recording behind the parish house. But, is it good enough? We might go for another one, from the UFS parking lot, when it’s cool weather and air conditioners aren’t in fashion. A couple of thousand dollar shotgun mikes would solve the problem.

The good news is, we’re striving for the absolute best quality we can get for the CD, and attention to detail is sure to make for an historic recording of Norwich’s beloved bells.

Monthly Meeting- May 22, '10-----

A robust agenda was presented as members enjoyed lemonade and sandwiches from Mr. Pizza. So far, Dale and Dave have visited, photographed, and researched about ten bell towers in Norwich. The field-recording season is officially under way, and members are encouraged to come out for a session, help set up mikes and run cable, and get a feel for what it’s all about. Several public relations opportunities were discussed. FNB seems to have taken on a life of it’s own. Community response to what we want to do has been phenomenal. We expect to seat a Board of Directors in the next month and will be incorporating as a, “501C3”. For the foreseeable future, regular monthly meetings will take place at noon on the third Saturday of each month. There was overwhelming support for us having a Friends of the Norwich Bells picnic in the late summer or early fall, so, as always, watch the website for updates on what’s going on. For the curious and the gifted, the energetic and the informed, the resourceful, and those who’s greatest resource is their sensibility and love of things beautiful, let us always remain thankful.

---Help Us Find This Bell!---

In 1964 or ’65, a, “ship’s bell”, type bell was stolen from a private residence in New London County. The bell in inscribed with the four-digit year in which it was commissioned. The family who owned the bell would like to find it. If you feel you may have information on the location of this bell, please contact Friends of the Norwich Bells. Your anonymity will be respected, and no questions will be asked of any person who is able to produce this heirloom so that it may be returned to it’s rightful owners.

----Monday, May 17-----

We did it! Our first actual master track is in the can! Dale found a prime recording position, and with the New London Day in toe, we set out. We got a magnificent recording of the bell at city hall tolling the hour at 7 PM. 7 o’clock? That means time for celebrating with dinner at La Stella’s. It’s been a good evening.

download City hall

----Sunday, May 16, '10---

“The adventures of Kevin and Katie, Volume I”.

This morning was a lot of fun. I was repeatedly struck by how effectively Katie and I seem to work together. I think she has an untapped gift in the world of recording. By the end of the session, she was unhooking equipment and packing it in it’s respective carrying places, setting up batting screens to cut out wind and reading the meters for me. I’d tell her something once and she’d have it down. She knows what a Y-adapter is and how to set up mikes in an “XY”, configuration. Just like in the recording studio however, you rarely get the track you want on the first take. And so it was to be for us this morning. When I played the first recording back, (bells before the beginning of the morning Eucharist service), there was no right channel. It was Katie that discovered that yours truly had forgotten to turn on the right microphone. Wind was the biggest problem though. We stuck around and got the bells after the service, but it appears a small branch from a tree was brushing against the mike stand. I want to thank Dale for coming out for our first field recording session, and Clair and Peter from the New London Day, who have been simply magnificent to work with. I also want to thank Bill Small from Grace Church for his help and for giving Katie a tour of the bell tower while I sat in the parish hall munching on crackers and cheese and sipping coffee.

Back to Grace in a week or two, then on to Taftville, Norwich Town and City Hall.

Oh, and I forgot to say… Thanks Katie!


At the April 24 meeting, we were pleased to welcome Josh Elsensohn, who brought some rather unwelcome news. The big old bell at Central Baptist Church is currently unringable. Cast by Paul Revere Iron Works, and dating back to around 1840, the bell itself is fine. But it is wedged at an angle, and there is significant damage to the yoke and vertical support structure from which the bell is hung. Estimates on repairs come in around six thousand dollars or so, and right now, the church doesn’t have the money.

Richard Hamar, noted organ builder, also shared a wealth of helpful information, and we are extremely grateful for his knowledge and resourcefulness.

Thank you to The United Congregational Church for it’s generosity in support of Friends of the Norwich Bells and providing meeting space for us.

A letter of introduction went out to most of the churches in town in early June.

If you have any unwanted bells, of any shape or size, please contact us.

There is also a possibility that one of our churches in town may be looking for a tower bell. When more information becomes available, we will post it here.
Some local churches suffered considerable damage to their towers after powerful Spring storms.

This is the bell at the Greeneville Firehouse. It was cast at McShane Bell Foundry in 1886

Dave and Dale’s adventures of May 5 were far from just another visit to another old firehouse to document and photograph another bell. Their visit to the top of the hose tower at the Greenville Firehouse, “Station 2”, found them followed by a handful of fire fighters, interested in learning more about the history of their department, and more than a little curious about what we’re up to. They were also accompanied by Claire Bessette, who is preparing a feature story on Friends of the Norwich Bells for The Day Newspaper. And, they stumbled upon a mystery. The 970-pound bell, cast by the McShane Bell Foundry of Baltimore, MD. was shipped by rail to Norwich, and conscripted to the fire chief in 1886. However, the Greenville Fire Station wasn’t built until 1896. Where was the bell for those ten years? The Norwich Fire Department has been very interested in what we’re doing, and we want to thank them for their ongoing support. They are an awesome bunch of folks.

Dale and Dave rose to new heights on April 21, when they scaled to the very top of St. Patrick’s Cathedral to examine and photograph the mighty one hundred ten year old bell. “That last latter was a bit rickety”, Dale said later. “We were definitely saying our prayers. The cathedral’s bell is now tolled with the push of a button by organist Doug Green, on very special occasions.

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