Saratoga County

Bell to toll in cemetery again

Question: What’s bronze, weighs 375 pounds, and will soon make lots of noise in a local cemetery?
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Question: What’s bronze, weighs 375 pounds, and will soon make lots of noise in a local cemetery?

Answer: The historic Meneely Bell, which is due to be carefully carted from storage to the Jonesville Cemetery this summer.

Clifton Park Town Board members this week voted to contribute $2,100 in repair funds for the aging church bell to strengthen its A-frame base. Molded in 1883 by the former Clinton H. Meneely Bell Co. in Troy, the bell is designed to sit on a supportive base, rather than hang from a belfry. As part of its modernization, it will chime at intervals after being struck by a hammer pre-programmed by a computer.

Members of the Jonesville Cemetery Association have rallied for months to secure ownership of the bell. After last month’s decision by the Town Board to turn it over to the cemetery, association members have swung into action designing ways to have the historic bell rung via new-age technology.

“We’d like to have the bell rung by a traditional pull rope, but it’s a security issue in the cemetery; people could go in and ring the bell any time day or night,” Ed Hughes, secretary of the cemetery association said.

The association has been scrambling to raise about $18,000 for the entire bell project, which includes purchasing computer equipment to sit beside the bell to regulate the tolling, Also in the works is building a 10-foot-high bell tower, adding plaques and signs to teach people the history behind the artifact, restoring sections of the cemetery’s 1910 fence that will encircle the tower and adding night lighting to illuminate the bell,

People living in Jonesville can expect to hear the chimes at noon daily, Hughes said. The association is now working with a consultant specializing in placing church towers and bells, and is offering his services at no cost.

“Once we get the plans approved by the consultant, we’ll move ahead, and we hope to unveil the tower by mid-September,” Hughes said. “The bell ringing may take a month or so after that, but things are moving along very well now. We’re very pleased to have it returned to the most historically appropriate location in Jonesville.”

Hughes said while the tower will resemble the peaked roof of a small church, the structure will be built to last well into the future.

The Meneely bell rang for 80 years in the small belfry of Grace Church on Main Street in Jonesville

It was moved to several Burnt Hills and Charlton locations before landing in a barn, where it became the property of Clifton Park. Town officials debated a final resting place for the bell since last October, considering sites including Grooms Tavern, Clifton Common, Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library, Town Hall and Spirit Park.

Categories: Schenectady County

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