A familiar ring to it

— image credit:

This old cast iron bell hasn’t moved much in 110 years.


But it does now occupy a place of honor, thanks to the efforts of Scout Matthew Kowitz and company.


As part of his Eagle Scout project, Kowitz assumed the team leader role for moving the bell, repairs to the bell’s support, gathering donations for and setting it on a concrete base, building a nearby bench and securing a commemorative stone and plaque.


The project got its start when Kowitz consulted John McAndie, Sequim School District maintenance supervisor and assistant Scoutmaster with Kowitz’s troop (1491).


“Often people will go to him and ask, ‘What needs to be done around here?’ Kowitz said. “We decided we could fix (the bell) up a little bit.”


The old Sequim School bell was donated to the Sequim School in 1903 by John Donnell, one of the first Sequim prairie settlers.


In June Robinson’s 1996 account,”Back When: On the Olympic Peninsula,” she wrote: “The bell was bought for the first Sequim school by pioneer John Donnell with money from his Civil War pension in the 1870s. It was housed at the Sequim School building that was built in 1911, which was located where the high school parking lot presently exists on Sequim Avenue. When this school building was taken down in 1952, the bell was moved to the new elementary school on Alder Street, which is now the Community School.”


The bell was then mounted at the corner of the school yard at Alder Street and Second Avenue.

There it sat for years, overshadowed — quite literally — by trees on the Sequim Community School property.


As project supervisor, Kowitz described his role as “wrangling up all the donations (and) people who know what they’re doing.”


“The original goal was to get it done before school starts,” Kowitz said in late August of 2012. “That’s fairly unrealistic right now.”


In December, Kowitz, fellow Scout Tristan Tosland, McAndie and school district maintenance staffers were putting the finishing touches on the bell and a sturdy six-foot bench. A few weeks later, a large stone donated by Blake Tile & Stone was in place, boasting a plaque donated by the Sequim Alumni Association.


And on Saturday, Kowitz accepted his Eagle Scout award.


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