Bevin BellEast Hampton Connecticut
The Bevin brothers were later joined by a fourth brother, Philo Bevin. The Bevin Bell website states it produced the first foot gong used in an automobile (the bell was patented in 1897). The foot gong is a bell that was beneath the floor of early automobiles and was rung by pressing it with your foot. It has since been replaced by the car horn.
During their long history of bell making the Bevin Brothers created souvenir bells for the presidential campaigns of Calvin Coolidge, Thomas Dewey and produced commemorative bells for the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. They also manufactured more than one million holiday bells for the Salvation Army.
Today the Bevin family, in its sixth generation is now being run by Matt Bevin with about 20 employees. The East Hampton Bell Factory now produces more than 200 kinds of bells. They are made mainly of aluminum, brass or steel, and range from 3/8 inch sleigh bells to 12-inch diameter gongs.
Each year Bevin Bell sells over a million bells including door bells, dinner bells, ice cream bells, commemorative wedding and anniversary bells, and trip gongs that are used in prize fights and the mining industries.
Among their customers is the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat in Essex who buys 15,000 ornamental bells from Bevin each year to give as Christmas keepsakes to children who ride the North Pole Express Train.
Cause of Bevin Bell Factory fire undetermined
As the community comes to grips with the loss of such an important piece of history, East Hampton’s fire marshal said it’s likely a lightning strike started the massive fire.
The official cause of the fire has been ruled as undetermined, but investigators said that they believe the building was hit by lightning when powerful storms ripped through the area on Saturday afternoon and evening.
The Bevin fire roared for 19 hours, destroying the building and everything inside. While fire officials said they are leaning toward a lightning strike as the cause, they said explosions inside the building helped spread the fire.
They had to use 5 million gallons of water to get it out.
Stanley Bevin ran the bell factory for nearly 40 years before handing the reins over to his nephew. He said his thoughts are with the 26 employees who lost their jobs in this rubble.
“Many of those employees have been with us for so many, many, many years and what struck me about the whole afternoon was that our employees care as much as we do, maybe more,” Stanley Bevin said.
Gerald Plummer is one of those workers, and stopped by to take one final look at where he made a living.
“It’s just a sad, sad day. It meant a lot. It was a well known and historic factory in the Town of East Hampton,” he said.
Mathew Bevin hopes to rebuild, but knows that might not be realistic in the current economy.
The Bevin fire, which ignited just before midnight Sunday, was described by emergency officials as “very active” upon arrival.
Thirty fire departments from surrounding towns responded to the scene to assist East Hampton emergency crews.
Officials said multiple propane tanks were present on the property and dozens of nearby residents were evacuated from their homes as a precaution.
Several witnesses reported hearing explosions, most likely caused by the propane tanks.
A temporary shelter was set up at the high school for the evacuated residents while emergency crews battled the fire, but a majority of them were allowed to return to their homes later in the morning Sunday.
No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.
All of the Salvation Army Christmas bells.
The bell used to indicate the start and finish of the New York Stock Exchange trading.
Championship Boxing bells.
A bell aboard the U.S.S. Maine.
The bell used in the 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life.
The cowbell played by Will Ferrell in the Saturday Night Live sketch “More Cowbell”.
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which includes an 1840 one-room school house and a museum, opened in 2006.
The present museum houses artifacts and memorabilia
that tell the stories of East Hampton, Middle Haddam and Cobalt history.
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