Bevin Bell

East Hampton, CT History

Bevin History

The company was founded by brothers William Bevin, Chauncey Bevin, and Abner Bevin in 1832. 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 It has since been replaced by the car horn.

Belltown USA

Through the years more than 30 companies have made bells in East Hampton earning it the nickname of “Bell Town.” Bevin Brothers is the only remaining bell manufacturer in East Hampton and still remains in the Bevin family. Through the years Bevin Bell has made sleigh bells, house bells, cow bells, sheep bells, door bells, and ship’s bells.

Bevin Bell Fire

On May 27, 2012, the Bevin Bell Factory in East Hampton, CT was struck by lightning resulting in a devastating fire. In the wake of the fire, Bevin Brothers’ future as a bell maker was uncertain.

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 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 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 factory,” he said.

The current president said he hopes to rebuild, but knows that might not be realistic in the current economy.

The 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.

Notable Bevin Bells

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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