HomeGeneral InformationEvent SearchPrograms & PlanningIn the NewsPhoto ScrapbookEmail Newsletter
Sponsors & Partners

FAQ

Merchandise

Contact Us
Ohio Bicentennial Logo
Ohio Bicentennial www.Ohio200.com is presented by the SBC Foundation
Bicentennial Bells ProjectBicentennial Barns ProjectHistorical MarkersSignature Events
Bicentennial Bells Project General Information

General Info | County Listing | Alpha Listing | Casting Schedule | Bell Facts | Bell Photos

Bicentennial Bells - A Signature Event for Every Ohio County

Craftsman burnishing a bell
A Verdin craftsman burnishes a bicentennial bell after removing it from its mold.
The Ohio Bicentennial Commission is casting commemorative Bicentennial bells on site in each of Ohio's 88 counties. The project is the signature event for the whole state, and serves as a guarantee that every Ohio county will take part in and benefit from the Bicentennial.

Stephen C. George, executive director of the Bicentennial Commission, said that 200 years ago, as the Northwest Territory opened, there was a great need for bells in Ohio schools, courthouses and churches. "Bells no longer order our lives as in years past, but they continue to inspire," George said. "This project, while re-establishing the tradition of early bell-founders, guarantees a lasting Bicentennial legacy for the generations that follow."

Bicentennial bells also will provide a thematic tribute to the state's manufacturing and industrial roots, just as Bicentennial barns, a hallmark of the celebration, honor Ohio's agrarian heritage. In planning such an ambitious project, the Commission enlisted the world's largest bell company. The Cincinnati-based Verdin Company, in business since 1842, has provided bells and ringing equipment to more than 30,000 churches. Perhaps best known for creating and casting the 33-ton, 12-foot-tall World Peace Bell for the millennium celebration, Verdin commissions include the famed "Big Ben" bell in London and the 1804 San Juan Capistrano mission bells.

Verdin has assembled a "foundry on wheels" that will make the production of each bell a two-day "out-in-the-open" public event, often coinciding with a festival or existing activity. The bells will be handmade in the centuries-old European tradition, when bells were cast close by a structure to minimize the high cost and difficulty of transportation. "This is probably the most exciting aspect of the Bicentennial Bell Project," said company president Jim Verdin, a fifth-generation bell maker. "Casting bells in all 88 counties will allow Ohioans to experience firsthand old-world craftsmanship."

The bells, to be molded in the "American" style of the Liberty Bell, will be personalized with a county name, forging date, the Great Seal of Ohio and the Bicentennial logo. Each county will be responsible for deciding where their casting takes place and where the finished bell is displayed.


Ohioans Will Experience Old-World Craftsmanship

The Event:

Each Bicentennial bell will be handmade on-site in the centuries old European tradition, when bells were cast close by a structure to minimize the high cost and difficulty of transportation. The bell, to be molded in the "American" style of the Liberty Bell, will be personalized with the county name, forging date, the Great Seal of Ohio and the Bicentennial logo. The castings will be two-day "out-in-the-open" events.

What Will Take Place: Day One

Craftsman pouring bronze
Molten bronze is poured into the bell mold.
Five hundred pounds of bronze bricks, called ingots, are added to the furnace. All material involved in the bell casting is produced in Ohio.

Over a period of two hours, the furnace is heated to more than 2,000 degrees. While the furnace is heating, a personalized bell mold is being prepared. The mold, customized for your county, is held in place by a mixture of more than 200 pounds of sand, and resin. The mold is contained in a box, called a flask. It is made of steel and weighs more than 500 pounds.

Once the molten metal reaches a temperature of 2,200 degrees, it is ready to be poured into the mold. Using a specially designed crane, bell casters will transfer the molten metal first into a ladle, and then into the mold. The bell then is left to cool overnight.

What Will Take Place: Day Two

Using a large sledgehammer, the ceremonial first swings crack the hardened, sand-resin mixture. Look for the dark, bell-shaped cone of sand, which helped form the bell's interior.
The bell is sandblasted, the first step in cleaning and smoothing the surface of the bell.

Over four hours, the bell is polished to a high shine. Some sections are treated with stain and polished again to produce a unique look.

The bell is ready to be dedicated and rung for the first time.

Your County's Role:

Each county is responsible for deciding where and how the finished bell is displayed. Options include a "yoke," from which a bell is suspended, or a "cradle," on which a bell rests. Bell structures are good project opportunities for Boy Scout troops and clubs, and partnership avenues for local businesses and foundations.

Bells Project | Barns Project | Historical Marker Project | Signature Events
General Info | Event Search | Programs & Planning | In The News | Photo Scrapbook | Email Newsletter
Sponsors & Partners | F.A.Q. | Merchandise | Contact Us
Copyright 2002-2003 Ohio Bicentennial Commission | Site Hosting Donated by DigiKnow