Work to replace the original wooden supports around the bell tower of iconic John Sutton Hall on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus that began last month is expected to be finished before the fall semester begins.
The tower atop the oldest building on campus houses a bell that was in use at one time. The bell has two ways of ringing: a motor that controls a reel that swings the bell, and a motor that controls a foot, or hammer, that strikes it.
In the days before clocks and watches, people lived by bells. Farms had bells to call workers for meals and so did factories to mark the beginning and end of the day. Ships had bells, as did locomotives and fire engines. People knew the time by listening for the sounds echoing from church steeples, courthouse cupolas and schoolhouses.
So it was indisputable that the Indiana Normal School’s new building must have a bell. The only question was finding money to pay for it. The school’s first principal, Edmund Fairfield, secured $100 contributions from four men — a Kittanning attorney, a Saltsburg coal dealer and two Cambria Iron Company executives.
Engraved with the names of these donors and the principal, the bell was cast by Theodore Jones and Company of Troy, N.Y. Inscribed with the date Dec. 8, 1875, it was hoisted into place on Jan. 15, 1876. Weighing 1,058 pounds, it was less than half the weight of the bell on Indiana’s old courthouse.
The IUP News Service contributed to this report.