Students working to create tower for 1883 bell

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A 780 pound bell that once hung in the original Grants Pass schoolhouse will soon be ringing once again.

“I’m pretty impressed with some of the stuff they camp up with, and not just the concepts and drawing, but the research they did,” said Welding and Fabrication Instructor, Jake Leair.

Last fall, Leair was approached by the principal with the idea to create a bell tower.

The 138-year-old bell was built in 1883.

Leair wanted to challenge his welding students.

“The idea would be to mount it on campus to where students could ring the bell each day or each week to start school off,” said Leair.

Built in St. Louis, Missouri, the old bell hung in the original Grants Pass schoolhouse in 1886.

When it was demolished, the bell went to a family in 1947. It was recently donated back to the school.

Leair is now working with his students, all of whom are seniors, to create a final design for the bell tower using all of their ideas.

“We started with 18 of them, teams of 2, with 9 drawings and as a class we whittled it down to 3 based on looks or how plausible the build was.”

The finalists tell me the challenge was fun, but daunting.

“To have the responsibility to build something that’s gonna be at the school and outlive us is really cool to build,” said senior Emmett Allen.

Each student came up with their own unique ideas.

“I took most of my inspiration from the main building that has metal framed windows, and I really wanted to incorporate the light metal with the brick of the building,” said senior Audrey Lemoss.

“One thing that I did want was the base of the bell up high,” added senior Issac Redlinger.

The final design for the bell tower will incorporate all 3 finalists ideas and will be constructed at the school in the courtyard near the main building.

Leair hopes it will installed before the students graduate in June.

“My goal is mid-May, once we get that ground dug and that concrete in, everything can be brought down from here and into the site.”

The students will install the bell tower with the help of professionals. Funding for the project is coming from the school.

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