School bell from 1850 now displayed at Medina HS lobby
MEDINA – The lobby in Medina High School now displays a cast-iron bell that used to ring at Medina’s first public school – the Medina Free Academy on Catherine Street.
That school opened in 1851. The bell was made a year earlier in Buffalo. When the Medina Academy opened in 1851, it was only the third school in the state to offer free education for students. Most academies then were tuition-based, Lacy said.
The school was knocked down in 1922 and a new school was built there and served as the high school until 1991. When the Academy building was razed in 1922, the bell was stored in the basement of Central School, an elementary school on South Academy Street.
After fire destroyed Central School in 1967, contractor Carl Petronio Jr. was hired to clean up the rubble and discovered the bell. He removed it to storage and recently donated it to the Medina Historical Society.
Craig Lacy, former Historical Society president, realized the significance of the 700-pound bell. He contacted Barnes Metal Finishing Company, which restored the bell.
Mark Kruzynski, the Medina school superintendent, is happy to have the bell on display in a prominent location in the high school. The district had a base made to display the bell as part of a current capital project. The base looks like Medina sandstone but is actually cultured stone. The district used similar stone with the upgraded entrance to Vets’ Park.
Kruzynski said the bell is an important artifact in the community’s public school history. He also hopes the bell can be used in future graduation ceremonies in the high school. Perhaps the bell could be rung to kick off the commencement ceremony, he said.
“We wanted it to be seen by a lot of people and also to be protected,” Kruzynski said about the location in the school’s lobby.