Bell Tower Building History

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The Bell Tower Building, home to the Chamber of Commerce office, has an interesting history. City archives indicate that as far back as 1874, this site was formerly home to the Police Station. Over the years, the Fire Department and City Jail were also located here, and the Bell Tower Building was occupied by the Allegany County League for Crippled Children from 1941 – 1972. On July 31, 1973, the Chamber purchased the building from the City for $1.00, with the stipulation that should the Chamber ever vacate the building, it returns to the City. It was a natural move for the Chamber of Commerce which was looking for new and permanent headquarters. They invested approximately $50,000 in renovating and furnishing the building in accordance with the instructions of the architect assigned by the Maryland Historical Trust. Except for its limited size, it is unquestionably the finest and most functional Chamber building in Maryland.

Facing east, the exterior of the Bell Tower, with the exception of the bell being added to the tower in 1991, appears to have remained substantially unchanged since its erection, thus retaining its original appearance — that of a small, solid “General Grant” period structure. Approximately square, with ten brackets along each side of the main cornice, this two-story brick building has tall double windows, simple molded lintels, decorated with a scroll-saw motif, shaped as a crude swag or festoon. The north side fenestration is identical and symmetrical, while the east facade, with evenly spaced windows, is not identical. A single cornice, supported by large decorative brackets, projects some distance from the main roof which, in turn, is a squat version of a Second Empire Revival roof. In the center of the metal roof is a square wooden bell tower supported by brackets similar to those on the main cornice.

In 1990, the Chamber began a search to find a bell to sit atop the Bell Tower Building. Mr. William Kline of Wiley Ford, West Virginia donated a locomotive bell and in May of 1991, a dedication ceremony was held to thank him for his generous donation.