- - - MORTON SCHOOL - - -
Sharon Twp., Richland Co., School District # 1
Restoration News
While work on the interior of Morton School House was ongoing
throughout 2001, the first major visible event in the restoration
of the exterior of the school occurred on March 30, 2002, when a
reconstructed bell tower was lifted into position atop the old
schoolhouse. Under construction during the early months of
2002, the bell tower is just the first step in a process that will
soon return Morton Schoolhouse to a condition similar to
it's appearance in the first quarter of the 1900's.
As the bell tower was nearing completion, there was a growing
concern that it might be a bell tower without a bell. A severe
storm in the 1970s removed a large portion of the schoolhouse
roof, greatly weakening the original bell tower structure and
necessitating major repairs to the school building as well. The
bell tower was removed at this time and the school bell was
sold as well as many school desks that had been stored in the
attic of the school. All attempts made to locate the original
Morton School bell were unsuccessful. The best remaining
depiction of the Morton bell and bell tower is a picture
taken in the late 1940s of one of Genevieve
Griffith's Morton School classes.
Morton School
ca. late 1940s
This picture was the basis for the replication of the bell tower
and provided guidelines in the search for the bell. Many helped
in the attempt to locate the Morton bell but there has been no
indication that the original bell remains in this area. A bell from
another local one-room school provided critical information
needed for the construction of a mounting surface within the
new bell tower that would be suitable for a possible future bell of
the Morton school type. Just as the tower construction was
nearing it's final phase, former Shelby Mayor Mr. Henry Cline
and his wife Elsie called to offer the use of their school bell. It
has been a part of their family for over fifty years. They have
moved many times during that period and have always made
a special place for their bell.
The Cline Bell at it's previous home
It had been the Cline's plan to donate the bell to the Shelby
Museum but when they heard of the search for the Morton
School bell, they kindly offered the use of the bell to the
Morton School Project. It can be used at the schoolhouse for as
long as the school has a need for it. If for any reason the school
no longer uses the bell, it will then go to the Shelby Museum.
Former Shelby Mayor Henry Cline inspects his bell's new home
Morton School committee member Ambrose Metzger cleaned
the bell and mounted it in the newly finished bell tower. The
Cline's bell is visually identical to the one that previously
occupied the old Morton School (as seen in the above 1940s
photo) and is a perfect fit.
Installation Day
March 30, 2002
The weight of the completed structure with the mounted bell
assembly is approximately 1360 pounds. Attachment to the
schoolhouse requires securing the "legs" of the base to two 13 foot,
6 by 8 1/2 inch beams located just under the roof in the attic.
Lift off
The assembly would have to be raised directly over the peak of the
roof and then carefully lowered so that each of the "legs" would fit
through the 4 holes cut in the sheet metal roof. This would require
careful positioning and the ability to lower the structure in a near
vertical fashion.
Steady as she goes. . .
After hearing about the project, Charles Gwirtz of Gwirtz Crane
Services volunteered to donate his time and equipment to this project.
On this sunny, but extremely gusty Saturday morning, he arrived with
the crane and raised first the base and then the roof section and perfectly
positioned them as they were firmly secured to the building.
Final Touch
After the upper section was lifted and mounted on the base, the
roof top flagpole was attached and Old Glory once again waved
above Morton school.
Bell Ringing
The First Bell Ringing
(l to r) Ted Clabaugh, Pat Baird, Henry Cline, Ambrose Metzger,
Richard Wheeler, Dean Morse, Fred Mc Kinney Sr.
Several former students of Morton School were on hand to watch
the proceedings, and joined in when Mr. Cline entered the schoolhouse
to ring the new Morton School bell for the first time.
Everyone in attendance appeared to be quite pleased with
the sound of the school bell ringing once again after so
many years of silence!!
March 30, 2002
The day closed with a golden sunset and many happy memories
of this first step and with the thoughts of the many more to come.
Morton Schoolhouse Easter 2002
We wish to thank Mr. Henry Cline and his wife Elsie for the
kind donation of their bell as well as for their many helpful
suggestions and comments.
Mr. Charles Gwirtz donated the use of his crane equipment
and expertise in the raising of the bell tower.
We couldn't have done this without him.
A Big Morton School Thank You!
The Morton School Restoration project would not be a reality
without the support of the people in the Shelby area community.
Many businesses, organizations, and groups have joined to help us!
The Richland County Foundation and the Shelby Foundation
have matched the funds that have been raised for this project.
Thank you, too, to all those who came to watch, help,
and share in our excitment!
We are grateful for all your support!
The Friends of Morton School Committee
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