118-year-old bell rings again in Sturgeon Bay

STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- The Sturgeon Bay community is celebrating the renewal of a treasured piece of its history.

"I always liked the caroling towers at the University of Wisconsin while I was going to school there and always thought it would be nice to have one in Sturgeon Bay," said Tom Herlache of the Clifford and Clara Herlache Heritage Foundation.

The bell was cast in 1900 and rang in a clock tower across the street from its current location until 1939. The tower had weakened and the structure was removed shortly after. The bell traveled around the community before being donated to the First Baptist Church of Sturgeon Bay in 1946.

"In 1989, when they decided they were going to do something special for Sturgeon Bay in celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the Bank of Sturgeon Bay, Tom knew right away what that should be," said John Herlache of the Clifford and Clara Herlache Heritage Foundation.

Herlache spearheaded efforts for a caroling tower at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Kentucky Street near downtown Sturgeon Bay.

"Then, it fell on some hard times, and nothing was played for awhile," said John Herlache.

That is when the Door County Community Foundation stepped up, working with local community volunteers to rebuild the clock tower and make it functional.

The bell will ring in Sturgeon Bay every day on the hour from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Along with the traditional chimes, it is programmed to play familiar songs, including Christmas carols, patriotic tunes, and even, "On Wisconsin."

"We promise to make sure it doesn't ring at night so that we're not going to keep everybody up," said Bret Bicoy, CEO and President of the Door County Community Foundation.

"It's a great opportunity for Sturgeon Bay, again, to just shine a light on all of the assets we have here," said Pam Seiler, Executive Director of the Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center. "Tourists, residents alike will certainly enjoy everything we have to offer here."

"I hope that everybody in the community can enjoy it," said Tom Herlache.

Along with the Clifford and Clara Herlache Heritage Foundation, the restoration was made possible through help from Bay Shipbuilding and Bailey Electric.

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