ROXBURY, NJ – Work began last week on a new home for the school bell formerly housed in the rooftop cupola atop the Roxbury School Board building.

The bell, which once alerted the neighborhood that school was in session, is being placed in a display on the lawn in front of the 116-year-old building. It was removed from the cupola last summer when workers renovated the structure during a roof replacement project at the so-called “Gray Building.”

“The administration, at the time, decided not to reinstall the bell and replaced it with the enclosed cupola,” said Roxbury Schools Community Relations Coordinator Ann Rhodes. “We knew we didn’t want to lose the history of the bell. The question then became where do we put it?”

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Keeping it Close to Home

A number of ideas were offered. Some people suggested the bell be placed at the Roxbury High School football field and rung after every Gaels touchdown.

The last time the bell was used was in 2004, according to school officials. It once rang every morning to announce the start of classes in the building, which once served as a school.

“We opened up the decision to the community for final input,” Rhodes said. “When the Bell Tower survey closed in October 2019, we had over 700 responses with 62% of the vote deciding the bell would remain at the Gray Building.”

Work on the project began last week when workers with the district’s buildings and grounds department dug footings for the bell structure.

Rhodes said the base of the structure will be made of fieldstone similar to the Gray Building’s stone foundation. The $5,000 base will be built by C&P Masons and Sons of Randolph, she said.

“We will have the bell cleaned up and added to the structure, and then one of our buildings and grounds guys will create the roofing structure to protect it,” Rhodes said. “A sandstone paver pathway will surround the bell structure.”

She said a path will be built connecting the bell structure to a new flagpole. The path, do be built by the district grounds crew and landscaper, will continue to the sidewalk in front of the building.

To offset the cost of the project, the district is planning to conduct a “buy-a-paver fundraising campaign,” Rhodes said. “Pavers purchased will then be engraved,” she explained. “This campaign is similar to the buy-a-brick campaign the township has used on Main Street in front of the library.”

The bricks will be engraved at no cost to the district, according to Rhodes. “Luckily, we’re able to do the engraving in-house, as well, as our Industrial Arts department has an engraver that can do this job,” she said.

The school board’s Community Relations Committee - along with its Facilities and Finance Committee and other district officials - determined the design, layout and scope of the project.

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