Plaque added to Medina school bell from 1850 now in high school lobby

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 30 September 2022 at 12:10 pm

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Craig Lacy, left, Medina businessman and active member of the Medina Historical Society, and Michael Cavanagh, Junior-Senior High School principal, stand by the historic 1850 bell which has been installed permanently in the lobby of Medina High School. On Thursday morning, Lacy presented the school with a stand and plaque describing the history of the bell.

MEDINA – A piece of Medina’s history has found a permanent home in the lobby of Medina High School on Mustang Drive.

On Thursday morning, local businessman and history buff Craig Lacy presented a plaque to the school to accompany the 1850 bell which originally rang in the first school building on Catherine Street.

A larger building of Medina sandstone was constructed in 1896 on South Academy and was later known as Central School. After a fire destroyed the building in 1967, local contractor Carl Petronio Sr. was razing the building and found the bell in the basement. He removed it to storage in his facilities in Albion, where it remained until Carl Petronio Jr. discovered it in 2017. Carl Jr. contacted Catherine Cooper, then director at Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, and she then reached out to Lacy, thinking the Historical Society could better handle the bell than the library.

Through Carl Jr.’s generosity, the bell became the property of Historical Society, of which Lacy is currently treasurer. Arrangements were made to pick the bell up and Lacy stored it for a while in his auto parts store on North Main Street.

Then the Historical Society initiated efforts to have the bell restored. Barnes Metal Finishing in Medina did the refinishing of the bronze. Jeff Gay did the woodwork for the frame and Lacy did the cast iron painting and re-assembly.

The approximately 800-pound bronze bell was cast by the Adam Goode Brass and Bell Foundry of Buffalo in 1850, and was likely transported to Medina down the Erie Canal.

In 2019, after 169 years, it was loaned permanently to Medina Central School District, with approval by the Board of Education. First, however, it was put on display for several months at the Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, where Cooper offered the public a chance to ring the bell for $1.

The school did the stone foundation on which the bell sits and encased it in plexiglass.

Medina Junior-Senior High School principal Michael Cavanagh accepted the plaque from Lacy and expressed his appreciation.

“It’s awesome to have a piece of nostalgia here for the kids to see,” Cavanagh said. “It brings us back to our roots.”

Lacy led the efforts to have an informative plaque made to accompany the bell. The Print Shop made the plaque and Renee Lama did the layout of the text.