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bringing back the bell - photo of old winthrop school with bell towerThe Winthrop School stood where Winthrop Fitness is now located. Photo from the Jane Parrish collection, courtesy of Shafer Museum.

The Winthrop School in 1921, seven years after it was built. It housed all grades through high school and started without electricity or indoor plumbing. The janitor called it "the chump factory". Photo from the Haase family collection, courtesy of Shafer Museum.

The broken bell that once rang over the old Winthrop school should be hanging again by this summer’s Winthrop School Reunion in August.

The bell fell and broke when the school burned on New Year’s Day 1961, after housing students since 1914.

Brad Martin, Rich Northcott and other volunteers plan to build a bell tower stand in the Winthrop Park near the library. Martin, who has been working with town government on the placement and design, said it would be “at the corner between the firefighter’s memorial and the ball park,” and would be one of the very first things visitors see as they arrive in Winthrop driving eastward on Highway 20.

Apparently, the old bell was found and roughly repaired after the 1961 fire. Martin guessed perhaps a shop class practiced by repairing it.


photo of old school bell showing repair seamsThe bell waits patiently in a garage for its return to glory in August. Photo by Sheela McLean

In the mid-70’s then-student Ty Hadfield found the bell in a junk pile at Liberty Bell High School and brought it home. It had apparently been used to hold and stir paint, and was completely filled with dried paint, which he chopped and scrubbed out.

“The bell is pretty badly damaged, but it can be made better,” said Martin.

The bell hung for some time on a frame at Dewey and D-Arlene Hadfield’s home. D-Arlene mentioned the bell to Maryann Bame, a good friend of Brad’s mother, Donna Martin, then Elinore Drake and Frankie Waller got involved, and pretty soon it was a movement to re-hang the bell, Brad Martin said.

The bell gazebo will be in the Winthrop park, easily seen from the highway.

Martin has been seeking out re-useable bricks from the old school to integrate into the new bell stand in the park. He said he has nine old school bricks for sure, and is chasing down rumors of a whole cache.

If anyone wants to support the movement, money would be helpful, Martin added. To donate, please call Elinore Drake at 996-2452. To help in other ways, please call Brad Martin at 996-2364.

Have a comment? >>

That is a wonderful idea. Re-purposed is a concept both near and dear to our hearts at Metal Physics. Much success and thanks to you in this endeavor.

Rose and Tony Hughes


Brad Martin brought the Winthrop HS bell to me at The Slag Works to see if I could clean it up a bit. I fired up the sand blaster and spent some time blasting through a number of layers of old paint and rust. Interestingly as I passed through layers of history I came upon not one but two different layers of ORANGE paint.....hmmmmm living in Twisp and hearing of the intense rivalry between Twisp HS and Winthrop HS over the years....and remembering that Twisp's colors were black and ORANGE...I speculated that that old bell must of been the focus of at least two seperate pranks by Twisp High students. Several months later I asked Howard Betty's wife if she knew anything about that. She confirmed that her uncle(?) probably had participated in multiple pranks on that rival school up the road.....

Barry Stromberger