Hear ye! School bell fans will enjoy this bit of history
For the past 15 years (probably more), the Pequot Lakes Area Historical Society has been the home of the bell that formerly topped the school building on the corner of the old, old highway and the road to Breezy Point.
The school and the bell worked together for many years in the education of local kids. The bell called them to and from school; the building housed the teaching/learning process. Equal partners.
Time changes everything, though. A new and bigger school was built eventually and new uses were found for the old building. Nowadays, well into the 21st century, the old school continues to be a vital part of the community, under the name of Scandia North Condominiums.
That it started life as a school is evident from its design and its yellow brick construction. A little extra attention went into the look of the building. Above eye level one can spot art deco designs in the brick work and inlaid decorative trim on the north wing when it was added as a gym and auditorium.
The old school is a lovely building and as such and we are fortunate it wasn’t torn down. It was used over the years by various interests, and at some point the bell was removed from the roof and given into the custody of Jim Brunes. He built a four-legged structure with a cedar shingled roof to shelter the bell and he displayed it in his front yard.
It stayed that way for several years and then, when Mr. Brunes left his house, he gave the school bell to the historical society.
The wooden housing was cut off at ground level and moved, bell and all, to a cement pad in front of the Cole Memorial Building downtown, and there it has been ever since - a little lean-y, but a decent tie to the past.
This spring, the men in the Pequot Lakes Public Works Department noticed some deterioration in the wooden structure and a crack in the bell housing. They recommended that it be repaired ASAP, which they then took upon themselves to accomplish.
The bell was welded, the wooden shelter was entirely replaced and the bell in its new home is back on its concrete pad in Tower Square, ready to be seen and photographed as an icon from the history of Pequot Lakes.
With a new lease on life and with new, solid support, the bell could, conceivably, be given a purpose. It could help to commemorate special occasions like the Fourth of July. It could announce the opening of school, the closing of school, wins by school sports teams.
Or, if that’s thought to be too noisy, it could figuratively take a deep breath and watch the rest of the world go by.
Karen Bye is president of the Pequot Lakes Area Historical Society.