Oct. 17, 2011
BOSTON — Patriots young and old gathered in front of the Old South Meeting House in Downtown Boston Sunday afternoon to pay tribute to an old bronze bell. But it wasn't just any old bronze bell. This bell was made by Paul Revere and his foundry back in 1801, one of only 49 still believed to exist. And it was about to be hoisted up to the belfry of the Old South Meeting House, which has stood without a bell for 135 years.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and members of the Old South Association saluted the bell's arrival with choruses, brass ensembles and a hand bell choir.
The mayor emphasized the historical significance of both the bell and its maker.
"Several hundred thousand people walk by here every day. It's part of maintaining our past for the future. It's very special," Menino said.
The bell spent over 160 years at the First Baptist Church in Westborough until the church closed in 2007. It seemed natural that such an important bell be placed in the meeting house where colonists began the Boston Tea Party.
But for some in the crowd, the Old South Meeting House has a personal and more recent connection. Christiana Fisher and James Peterson of Allston were married at the Old South Meeting House in April, when it was without a bell.
"We wanted a bell at the end of the ceremony, and so my mother arranged for everybody who attended to ring hand bells at the end of the ceremony, which was awesome, and now they're getting a bell, so we came back to check it out," Fisher said.
For others at the ceremony, it was just another day at work. Scott Brooks is the crane operator responsible for picking up the 879-pound bell and assuring its arrival in the belfry.
"I work around here all the time. I make a lot of picks, but this is kind of special. It's part of history and part of Boston," Brooks said.
The crowd watched in near silence as Brooks slowly lifted the bronze. By 2 p.m., Paul Revere's bell was in its new home, and in a few short weeks, the bell will chime at the top of every hour, just as it did for the colonists of Boston so many years ago.
Sign-up for updates from the WGBH Your Don't-Miss List, WGBH promotions, and previews of what's coming up on WGBH TV.