According to a report from the Boston Globe, a large bell that was used to alert 19th-century Needham, Massachusetts, residents of fires will soon be a fixture in a Needham Fire Department (NFD) station currently under construction in Needham Heights.
On Monday, Needham’s Permanent Public Building Committee approved additional funding to install the 1,500-pound bell in the new NFD station that’s being erected at Highland Avenue and Webster Street.
The bell, which will cost $40,000 to install, will be displayed prominently in the tower of the new fire station, with a plaque explaining its history and significance.
The bell was made in 1887 by the Blake Bell Co. of Boston and and was originally housed inside the Parker School in Charles River Village, where it served as a school bell and fire alarm for that remote part of town. It remained there until the school closed around 1938. When the school was demolished a few years later, the bell was moved to the old Heights fire station at the corner of Highland Avenue and Mellen Street, where it stayed until the late 1940s.
As that station was being replaced, the bell was given to the Needham Historical Society (now called the Needham History Center & Museum) and placed on its front lawn on Glendoon Road. When the museum moved to its current location on Central Avenue in 2006, the bell went with them.
In 2018, with plans underway to build the new station, NFD Chief Dennis Condon asked if the bell could return to the fire department. The Needham History Center & Museum approved his request and agreed to lend the bell. But to install the bell in the new station properly, engineers needed to know how much it weighed. Last March, the town’s department of public works used lift equipment to bring the bell to the town’s recycling and transfer facility so it could be weighed.