A bell that once rang at the original Hotchkiss High School and was originally ordered from a Sears & Roebuck catalog finally has a permanent home, next to a bright, shiny flag pole in front of Memorial Hall.
This year the decision was made to remove the roughly 116-year-old bell from the roof of Hotchkiss Memorial Hall, where it has been since February, 1979, and give it a place of honor in front of the hall.
On Sunday, Oct. 18, the Memorial Hall board dedicated the new flag pole in memory of Harold Martin, a 25-year board member, lifelong Hotchkiss resident and World War II veteran. Martin died in 2014. His wife, Karen, and son, Tom, attended the ceremony, and a plaque was placed on the flag pole. It was also an opportunity to share stories about the school bell.
A display created for the dedication by Hotchkiss - Crawford Historical Society board member Kathy McKee stated that an 1897 Sears and Roebuck catalog lists the bell for sale for $22.90. With the steel stand and wheel to ring it, the total weight was 425 pounds. The high school was originally built in 1897, and the bell was put in place in 1899.
After a new school was built in 1912 on Main Street across from where Town Hall currently sits, the bell was moved there. When that building, now an apartment building, was slated to be converted to an old folks home, Ed Hanson took it to his home on Duke Mesa, where it was repaired and painted to prevent rust. It was often borrowed for use on parade floats. (The old folks home was never completed.) When the school was closed, Bud Simonds kept the bell safe for several years and in 1979 it was moved to the roof of Memorial Hall after the sitting town council decided they couldn't display it. Minutes of the Memorial Hall board meeting of June 9, 1978, state that the bell "is not to be confused with the old town bell which is now at the Methodist Camp."
A crane was required to lower the bell off the roof. While moving it, "Harold was really on our minds," said board member Paul Smucker.