ROXBURY, NJ - Renovations of the century-old Lincoln-Roosevelt School and the adjacent, even older, “Gray Building” have left without a home the big bell that once rang each morning to start the school day.
The bell was housed in a cupola atop the 116-year-old Gray Building. The crumbling cupola is being replaced, and it was determined that re-installing the bell would be too costly, said Roxbury School Board President Leo Coakley.
The bell hasn’t been used since 2004 but it could ring again, maybe each time the Roxbury High School football team scores a touchdown, suggested Coakley.
School officials plan to ask the public this month whether the bell should remain at the Gray Building site or be moved to Roxbury High School. Either way, the bell will likely be housed in a ground display, not installed on top of a building.
“My thought is it could go by the football field and it could be rung at graduation or when kids score a touchdown,” Coakley said. However, he acknowledges the public might like to see it stay near the Gray Building - its home for more than a century.
The building, built in 1903, is now home to the school board and school administration offices. It initially served as a school for grades K-12.
Keeping it Real
In renovating the Gray Building and the Lincoln-Roosevelt School, the district is trying to be as sensitive as possible to the structures’ historical aesthetics. For example, it was decided that two of the four clocks in the clocktower atop the Roosevelt School section will not only be returned to working condition but also be illuminated at night.
Roxbury Schools Superintendent Loretta Radulic “wants to keep the historic aspect of the clocks intact as much as we can,” Coakley said. “Rather than blank them off, as some places have done with (old clocks in) steeples, she wanted to keep it looking as the original looked.”
The plan to fix and light up the clocks sounds good to one Roxbury resident who grew up in the neighborhood and said the clocks played an important role in the days before cellphones.
“I think if you’re going to have a clock on display, it should work,” she said. “As a kid, we used those clocks to know when it was time to go home. Nobody wore watches, but we could never use - as an excuse for being late - that we didn’t know what time it was.”
Roxbury Schools Business Adminstrator Joseph Mondanaro said the work at the Gray Building this summer included a roof replacement, rebuilt porticoes, staircases and the new cupola.
"I'm pretty sure all were original to the building," he said. "This was a part of the larger roof replacement project at Lincoln-Roosevelt. Both had the original slate roof."
The total cost of the project for Lincoln-Roosevelt and the Gray Building is $583,000 and the contractor is Billy Contracting & Restoration out of Woodland Park, Mondanaro said.