MRA dedicates new bell tower holding original school bell
From 1869 until 1920 when the original limestone school building was replaced by a more modern one, the school bell had called the students to classes.
The 1921 building was used continuously by the Kasson-Mantorville School District until the current middle school was built. The building has now been remodeled as the Dodge County Government Center. The actual site of the original school is now the Government Center parking lot.
Last Thursday night the Mantorville Restoration Association celebrated the opening of Marigold Days festivities by dedicating a new bell tower to hold the several hundred pound original bell next to the area where it once called youngsters to classes.
Jane Olive of the MRA presided over the dedication program and explained the story of how the bell went from the school to its new location.
The bell had been in storage for many years and it was always one of the goals of the Restoration Association to display the bell once again.
Donations from two couples strongly interested in preserving Mantorville’s historic past, Glenn and Carla Webster and Tom and Helen Ferry helped spur on the project.
John Olive, chair of the MRA building committee, was the project manager from the start. Steve Laedtke drew up the plans for the tower and Ken Hill did the carpentry work.
Dynamic Masonry in Byron provided the foundation stone and masonry. The original school’s 1869 cornerstone has also been incorporated in the foundation of the tower.
Olive Bros. and Brooks Excavating did the site prep, footings and final grading and Laverne Vangness did the custom metal work needed to support the bell.
The bell tower was officially dedicated as those attending took a turn at ringing the bell.
The Mantorville Restoration Association owns a number of historic properties in Mantorville which it restores and maintains including the Opera House, the Restoration and Log Houses, the carriage House, the Greek Revival House, the Normal School and now the Bell Tower.