Alexandria, VA

Twice a year, an engineer checks the clock mechanism at the Alexandria City Hall clock tower to make sure everything is running on time. Above the machine sits is a relic of a bygone age — a cast iron bell that has been silent for decades.

The clock tower is accessible via a small door next to City Council Chambers.

According to a report from the National Park Service, the bell first rang on New Year’s Eve – Jan 1, 1873. An old bell hammer sits in one of the corners of the clock tower.

“I think these days the bell ringing can be done electronically,” said Bill Miner, the city’s division chief for capital improvement projects, who led ALXnow on a tour of the bell tower.

Inside the tower there is 50-year-old graffiti from construction workers who put in steel reinforcement beams in the 1960s.

The inscription on the bell reads, “Steeple, clock and bell presented to the City of his nativity by an esteemed citizen. Alexandria, VA, A.D. 1872.”

The bell was made by the Meneely Bell Foundry in 1871, according to the Office of Historic Alexandria. The New York-based foundry made bells from 1826 until 1952.

Photos via Office of Historic Alexandria and ALXnow

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