Ringing for independence

Bells: This year, as in the past six, many in Anne Arundel County will celebrate the Fourth of July by letting freedom ring.

July 01, 1999|By La Quinta Dixon | La Quinta Dixon,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Picnickers eating hamburgers and watermelon Sunday will be treated to an unusual patriotic serenade: At 2 p.m., in honor of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence in the original colonies, bells throughout Anne Arundel County and the country will ring 13 times.

The 30th nationwide Fourth of July ringing is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution and echoes the ringing of the Liberty Bell on July 4, 1776. Society spokeswoman Martha Taylor estimates that 10,000 institutions will participate.

This year marks the seventh year Anne Arundel institutions have been enlisted to participate. In 1992, the Retired Officers Association sponsored the first event. The military group is now defunct, but former members retired Lt. Col. Frank McHugh of Annapolis and retired Capt. Garth Read of Bay Ridge, among others, renew the call each year. Last year, 15 churches and institutions in the county participated and more are expected this year, McHugh said.

"The main thing is to honor the signers who risked their lives and careers to sign that historic document," McHugh said.

The Maryland signers of the declaration were Charles Carroll, a landowner and founder of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; Samuel Chase, a Supreme Court justice; William Paca, federal judge; and Thomas Stone, a Charles County lawyer.

Arundel bells

Odds and ends about the bells of Anne Arundel County:

Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, 611 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd., Severna Park: Unlike most churches, this church's bells are still rung manually for special occasions.

1912: Church bought its first bell.

1947: Fletcher Brown, a longtime parishioner, joined the church and rang the bell for each of the church's three services until 1994.

1987: The bell cracked when it was struck by lightning May 23. The church bought a 33-inch bell on Aug. 25 from McShane Bell Foundry of Glen Burnie. The old bell still sits in the church yard.

St. Mary's Church, 109 Duke of Gloucester St., Annapolis: Has four bells. Sizes: 2,100 pounds, 47 inches in diameter, musical note F; 1,200 pounds, 39 inches, G flat; 700 pounds, 32 1/2 inches, B; and 400 pounds, 24 inches, D.

1853: The first bell -- the 1,200-pounder -- was bought for $500 by church member Col. James Boyle, former Annapolis mayor.

1858: St. John Nepomucene Neumann, then bishop of Philadelphia, blessed the bell.

1859: 27 church members donated money to buy the church three more bells.

St. Anne's Episcopal Church, 199 Duke of Gloucester St., Annapolis: Queen Anne gave the church its first bell. She reigned from 1702-1714, and the church was founded in 1692.

1858: Bell fell and cracked in a fire.

1865: George Wells, president of Farmers Bank, replaced the bell for $1,000. It measures 38 inches and weighs about 1,200 pounds.

1957: The Rev. James F. Madison had the bell removed to repair shoddy beams. Today it rings every 15 minutes.

St. John's College, 60 College Ave., Annapolis: Each February 75 to 90 seniors ring the bell on the day they turn in their final essays. It also sounds a break between classes.

1789: Original bell installed in McDowell Hall.

1909: The bell cracked and was destroyed in a fire.

1910: The new bell is installed in the new McDowell Hall.

U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis: Has three bells. The Japanese Bell was presented to Commodore Matthew Perry in 1858 as a diplomatic gesture during his expedition to Japan.

The main bell was installed in Mahan Clark Tower in Mahan Hall in 1923. Made with parts taken from the Alabama, Indiana, Michigan and Massachusetts battleships, it weighs 2,500 pounds.

The Enterprise Bell, in front of Bancroft Hall, is the victory bell rung when the football team beats Army.

Team captains and the coach continue the tradition of ringing the winning score.

Baltimore City Hall, 100 N. Holliday St., Baltimore: At 7,500 pounds, "Lord Baltimore" reigns. This giant bell is 10 feet wide and 4 feet 10 inches tall and was cast in 1889 by McShane Bell Foundry.

Lord Baltimore replaced the 6,500-pound "Big Sam," installed when City Hall was built in 1875 and taken down in 1889 because of a crack. The iron door jambs had to be torn down to remove Big Sam.

Pub Date: 7/01/99

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