Ravalli County Coverage

Jan 7, 2014 6:53 PM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News

Ravalli commission reviews plans for historic school bell move

HAMILTON - Ravalli County commissioners were given an explanation Tuesday of how an historic Bitterroot school bell will be displayed in Hamilton - preserving the memory of one of the oldest schools in Montana.

Members of the Bitterroot Valley Historical Society have been working on plans to preserve the old bell from the Grantsdale School since shortly after the Hamilton School Board decided to close the operation.

The historical society moved the bell last fall and has since dismantled the bell tower itself, placing the items in storage until the new location can be set up outside the Old Courthouse in Hamilton.

Museum leaders gave county commissioners an "on site" explanation Tuesday of what they're planning. That includes reconstruction of the bell tower and hanging the bell where it can be rung during special events.

The plan is to mount the tower where it won't block the museum access and will even serve as a buffer between the different architecture of the old and new courthouses.

"This is iconic, this is what we are. This is our history. So it's important that what we do enhances the experience of our visitors rather than detract. But I think this is going to be very exciting for us," explained Ravalli County Commissioner Suzy Foss.

The museum is continuing to sell memorial bricks to help pay for the project, with erection of the bell tower planned for this coming spring.

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