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Clarksville Historic Preservation Commission launches fundraiser to save bell tower

The remnants of George Rogers Clark Elementary School's bell tower.
Clarksville Historic Preservation Commission
The Bell Tower currently sits on the lawn at George Rogers Clark Elementary School.

The Clarksville Historic Preservation Commission has started its Save the Bell Tower campaign to restore the former George Rogers Clark Elementary School bell tower, built in 1899.

Lynn Lewis, president of HPC, said she hopes to raise their $27,500 goal by November 12. Donations are accepted online or by check to the Town of Clarksville, at 2000 Broadway St.

GRC was the second elementary school built in Clarksville. The bell tower stood at the top of the entrance until 1975, when the school was remodeled. It was left on the school lawn for almost 50 years and is now in “significant disrepair” according to the HPC.

With donations, HPC will restore the tower with a new brick base and place it along Clarksville’s Heritage Trail in Colgate Park. Lewis said the rest of donations will go toward landscaping, benches and a concrete plaza built around the bell tower’s new site.

“We can make a special place in Clarksville, a gathering place,” Lewis said.

Lewis said the bell tower is an important part of Clarksville's history, especially for those who went to GRC as children.

“We have a man who's now volunteering with our commission. … He said, ‘I rang that bell, I want to be a part of that’,” Lewis said. “You just don't know what people care about in this world. And if you care about something and have some passion, they often will, too. And it's lifting up the spirits of the people in our community.”

Neighborhood residents built GRC so their children did not have to travel far to get an education. Lewis said the bell tower will serve as a reminder of how Clarksville values education.

“It's to lift up the fact that we've cared about our children. We've cared about how well they were educated. And we think that our school system still does that today,” she said.

Lewis hopes to have the new landmark site finished by May, during Historic Preservation Month.

Giselle is LPM's breaking news reporter. Email Giselle at grhoden@lpm.org.

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