Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Old Courthouse Bell

This fire and alarm bell originally hung in the old Courthouse on the east side of Columbus Avenue from approximately 1838 until 1874 when it was moved to the new Erie County Courthouse on the west side of Columbus Avenue. The bell was made in Troy, New York. For years, the tolling of this bell was the recognized fire alarm in the city and it rang out for every conflagration. After the water works standpipe was built in 1875, a whistle on it was used as a fire warning. The whistle signaled the location of the fire by the number of blasts.

In 1874 when the new court house was built, the bell was moved from its original location in the academy building to the new Erie County Courthouse. A light hearted item about the change in location for the bell appeared in the Sandusky Register on November 24, 1874:

The Old Bell—The bell of the old court house is to be taken down and placed in the tower over the Common Pleas Court room in the new building. The old bell has hung in the court house for thirty years and has done excellent service. It has for years been the only recognized fire alarm in the city, and at every conflagration for the past three decades it has rung out warning notes. It has never been “cracked” on any subject and has always attended strictly to its own business. As a reward for its exemplary course in the past it has been assigned an exalted position in one of the finest court houses in the State. And yet it isn’t “stuck up.” It will by next week probably, as the place is about ready for it.

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