Bronze Bell From Paul Revere's Foundry Returned Almost 200 Years Later

A historic bronze bell was returned to Paul Revere's Massachusetts foundry on Friday, nearly 200 years after it was created at the site.

The 1,000-pound bell was cast in 1834 by Revere's son, Joseph Warren Revere, and has since been in churches in Ohio and spent decades in a California garage, the Associated Press reported.

It traveled for a week across the U.S. and was finally returned Friday, according to Kiley Nichols, a spokesperson for the Paul Revere Heritage Site.

The Reveres produced hundreds of bells, but few of them have ended up in private hands and most are not accessible to the public, according to local historian George Comeau, who is part of the Revere & Son Heritage Trust Corp. that runs the site museum.

"This bell went 3,000 miles [4,800 kilometers] from Canton to California," Comeau told AP. "It just shows the long reach of history. We're super excited it's coming home."

Jeannene Shanks, a real estate agent, acquired the bell by chance in 1984, AP reported. She had assisted with a fitness center's purchase of what once was the First Baptist Church in Vermilion, Ohio, which had possession of the bell at the time.

Because the gym did not want the bell and Shanks didn't want it to be discarded, she obtained the bell from the church with a $1,000 donation. Before it was with the church, the bell was housed at the First Presbyterian Church of Cleveland, AP reported.

Bell Returned
A historic bronze bell was returned to Paul Revere's Massachusetts foundry on Friday, nearly 200 years after it was created at the site. In this photo provided by Amy Miller, the bell forged in 1834 by Paul Revere's son, Joseph Warren Revere, is readied for shipping in Chino Hills, California, on February 8, 2022, for transport to the Paul Revere Heritage Site in Canton, Massachusetts. Amy Miller photo via AP

Shanks and her husband eventually moved to Chino Hills, California, after they retired, and brought the bell with them.

Shanks' daughter, Amy Miller, told AP that the bell became "the joke of the family."

Miller, 66, said that her parents would open the door to their garage, where they stored the historic artifact, every Fourth of July and ring it.

After her parents died, Miller moved the bell to her garage in 2009 with the help of her brother, Robert L. Shanks Jr., a retired executive from Ford Motor Co., AP reported.

A collector in Texas offered to buy the bell for $50,000, but they refused his offer after he indicated that he might melt it down if he decided he didn't want to keep it anymore.

After some research, Miller learned that the bell had been cast in Massachusetts and donated it to the Canton museum there.

"I don't need a bell in my garage, and this bell has a story of its own," she told AP. "It represents what our history and our country are all about. I wanted it to go beyond us—to go back to where it started. We're the keepers of our history."

The bell received a ceremonial escort from police in Canton to the Paul Revere Heritage Site, AP reported. The museum, which is on a 9-acre site, commemorates the life of the historical figure most famous for his midnight ride from Boston to Lexington to warn the Colonial militia of the approach of British forces.

The site also honors him beyond the single historic event, particularly his roles as a silversmith, businessman, entrepreneur and industrialist, according to the museum's website. The area includes waterfalls, a mill pond, walkways and two 19th-century buildings—a horse barn built by Revere's son and the Copper Rolling Mill.

Newsweek reached out to the Revere & Son Heritage Trust Corp. for comment on the bell's return but did not hear back by publication time.

Update 3/4/22, 2:59 p.m. ET: This story was updated with additional information and background.