To mark Ohio’s 200th birthday, the Ohio Bicentennial Commission is casting commemorative Bicentennial bells in each of Ohio’s 88 counties. The project is the signature event for the whole state, and guarantees that every Ohio county will take part in and benefit from the Bicentennial. Each Bicentennial bell is handmade on-site in the centuries old European tradition, when bells were cast close by a structure to minimize the high cost and difficulty of transportation.
The Bicentennial bells provide a thematic tribute to the state’s manufacturing and industrial roots, just as Bicentennial barns, a hallmark of the celebration, honor Ohio’s agrarian heritage. In planning such an ambitious project, the Commission enlisted the world’s largest bell company. The Cincinnati-based Verdin Company, in business since 1842, has provided bells and ringing equipment to more than 30,000 churches. Perhaps best known for creating and casting the 33-ton, 12-foot-tall World Peace Bell for the millennium celebration, Verdin commissions include the famed “Big Ben” bell in London and the 1804 San Juan Capistrano mission bells.
The bells, molded in the “American” style of the Liberty Bell, are personalized with a county name, forging date, the Great Seal of Ohio and the Bicentennial logo. Summit County’s bell was cast May 31 and June 1, 2003 at the Cuyahoga Valley Heritage Festival in Lock 3 Park (downtown Akron).