The Great Liberty Bell Dupe
Tucked away in Allentown, PA at The Zion United Church of Christ is the site that protected one of America’s greatest treasures – the Liberty Bell. Today, an exact full-size duplicate of the original bell marks the spot where the bells of Philadelphia were taken to prevent them from being confiscated for their metals.
While the British occupied Philadelphia in 1777, the Supreme Executive Council decided to remove the famous Liberty Bell and 10 other bells to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. Hidden on a train of 700 wagons beneath a veil of hay and manure, the bells made their way 50 miles north to Northampton Towne, now called Allentown on September 24, 1777, with a guard of 200 cavalrymen. They carried the bells throughout Pennsylvania to Richland Township, Bethlehem, then Allentown, where they were hidden under the floorboards of old Zion’s Reformed Church until the following July. By 1778, the British evacuated Philadelphia and the bells were restored to their original place.
“We’re not sure why they chose this particular church, but there may have been a Masonic connection,” explains Pastor Bob Stevens, of Zion United Church of Christ, in Allentown. “A cartoon once appeared that had a Masonic sign above it, so it’s believed a connection existed among the leaders of Allentown and Philadelphia. In 1950, a replica bell was presented to the Commonwealth in PA for the United States Saving Bond Independence Drive. Our museum was started in 1959, but Pennsylvania presented the bell to our church for the nation’s bicentennial in 1962. We get thousands of visitors from all over the world every year.”
Pastor Stevens encourages the public to ring this bell, whose dimensions, weight and tone are identical with the original Liberty Bell, to hear what the actual Liberty Bell would sound like if it wasn’t cracked.
“We have commemorative services every year on the third Sunday in September to commemorate the hiding of the bells here at our church,” says Pastor Stevens. “Everyone is invited and we have re-enactors who dress in colonial garb. In fact, I dress in the colonial costume that we think Rev. Abraham Blumer, who was the pastor here at that time, wore.”
The museum now contains permanent exhibits including Allentown’s own Liberty Bell, cast in 1769, and rung for the people to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence, a fiber-optics map, a collections of Revolutionary War era artifacts, a Civil War Exhibit celebrating the ‘First Defenders” and the new General Harry C. Trexler Portraits of Freedom Center.
The Allentown Liberty BellWeighing about 2,080 pounds, the Liberty Bell replica in Allentown, PA is composed of 70% copper, 25% tin, 2% lead, 1% zinc, .25% arsenic and .20%silver with trace amounts of gold, magnesium, nickel and antimony.
Watch a video about the history of the great Liberty Bell replica told by the curator of Liberty Bell Shrine Museum.
Also in this Issue:
- Artists Give New Life to Recycled Copper
- Handmade in Tampa: The Copper Jewelry of Tina Gasperson
- Lanterns of Cape Cod: Continuing an Age Old Copper Tradition
- The Great Liberty Bell Dupe
- ISC Sculpture in Public: Part 2, Public Art