Historic Hood River
I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking with folks about this bell so I was surprised to find I never posted it on this site. Or if I did, I can’t find it.
In 1891 “citizens and pupils of Hood River” decided the bell at the old school near the courthouse on State Street wasn’t adequate. They donated this fine new bell, which served until the school was removed (probably in the 1950s when the new courthouse was built). The bell was mounted near the entrance of the May Street Elementary School, where it stayed until a few months ago.
While researching the bell I found this editorial in The Hood River Glacier on September 26,1891 which tells the whole story:
Hood River is growing and so is her school. The best evidence of this lies in the fact that, at this time last year, the whole school was accommodated in a single room. To-day there is not sufficient seating capacity in both rooms for the pupils enrolled. The school is not only growing in numbers, but the quality of the work done by the pupils and their interests are growing in proportion. We understand the pupils of the school have a scheme on foot to purchase a new bell for the building. We believe this is the first project for improving the school that has been undertaken voluntarily by the pupils. This volunteer labor on their part to secure a needed improvement in the school is the strongest testimony of their interest in the school, and we hope this committee of pupils will meet the same success in their efforts to purchase a bell that the teachers did last term in securing the big flag which floats over the building daily. Parents, can you think of a more inspiring thought than that your children are daily being educated under their country’s flag ? Every pupil as he files out at four o’clock, before he breaks ranks, turns and salutes his flag. The flag is an appeal to the pupils eye, to his patriotism, to his love of country; the bell will be a constant appeal to his ear. The present bell is an old fifty-pound cast steel, farm bell, and long since fell behind its capacity as a school bell. Besides this, a very nearly fatal accident happened during last term by a part of the bell coming loose and dropping to the floor of tho school-room below.
We believe the present bell was a contribution from Mr. Coe to the first school house built in Hood River, and, by the way, the school has to thank Mr. Coe for several courtesies during its life so far.
The pupils, in their present efforts, purpose to purchase a thoroughly first class bell, made of pure bell-metal from the firm of Van Duzen & Tift of Cincinnati, Ohio. They intend that the bell shall not only be large enough for the present building, but large enough for a future one as well. The parents and citizens of this district should respond to this scheme liberally if they have the interest of the school at heart and wish to see it grow. The school would gladly earn its funds by means of an entertainment were there a suitable hall in the town, but until there is such a hall, the school must remain handicapped in that respect.
I shared the history of this bell with the team working on the new school design early in the planning stages. I had hoped the bell could find its way into a new bell tower, fulfilling the prophecy of that this bell would be large enough for a future school. While the architect did not work a bell tower into the new school design, I was assured the bell would reside in a place of honor within the new building. I look forward to seeing its new home.
Tags: 1890s, 2010s, bell, Isenberg, May Street, May Street School, Rand, school
Arthur, can't quite read what is on the bell. Can you provide?
A bell tower would be nice if it fits into the design. What would it be rung for?
Probably a neighbor would complain about the 'noise'. But I think it would be more than just a bell tower but rather a symbol of the town, our schools, and the children. We had one church on the Heights that used to ring it's bell for the beginning of Sunday services. And we used to have the noon time siren.
Arlen L Sheldrake
great story, great preservation efforts….all us alumni should hold the school board to their Arthur extracted promise. yes, what is the inscription? and yes Nels, loved the noon siren from our 701 Prospect home until we move out to Belmont in 1948.
The message wraps around the bell, but it basically includes the manufacturer, a list of people who headed the committee (including F.H. Isenberg, F.E. Jones and D.E. Rand), and a line saying “Hood River School Oct. 1891.”
Putting a bell tower on the school would have been a bold statement, but sometimes bold isn't the best path with public buildings. But at least it was considered!
My daughter is at May Street, and the parents have been invited to come take a look later this week (so we don't all muck up the works on the first day of school next week, milling around oohing and aaahing). I'll look for the bell and bring a camera.
nels â€” ask not for whom the bell tolls . . .
Arthur, the school was still on the court house grounds in 1952. Sometimes I used to play in it.
Still miss that noon siren with all the dogs in the neighborhood joining in. Makes me smile to this day!