Jacksonville News

Photo by Member Mark Krancer, Kram Kran Photo

Photo by Member Mark Krancer, Kram Kran Photo


Date ArticleType
5/29/2023 4:00:00 AM Member News

Jacksonville Historical Society to unveil Bicentennial Bell

Main Library to host unveiling, offer temporary location

Jacksonville, FL, May 30, 2023 – Thanks to the generosity of more than three dozen donors, the manufacture of a bronze bell to commemorate Jacksonville’s 200th birthday was fully funded. The bell will be featured as the centerpiece of a monument to Jacksonville’s significant milestone, however, funds still need to be raised for the next phase, which includes site location and preparation, creation and engraving of markers, and installation of the bell.

More than $30,000 was raised from 38 donors during 2022, in honor of Jacksonville’s Bicentennial, to have the 225-lb. bell cast and shipped from the Verdin Company in Cincinnati, Ohio to Jacksonville. The bell has been sequestered in the Jacksonville Public Library since late February and will be unveiled to the public on Wednesday, June 7, during Art Walk. Donors have been invited to a private reception at the Main Library, beginning at 5:30 p.m., but the public is welcome to attend the unveiling in the library’s promenade at around 6:30 p.m. Following the unveiling, the bell will be on display at the library for an undetermined length of time while plans are underway to secure a permanent site.

The Bicentennial Bell was the combined idea of the Jacksonville Historical Society and Aaron Gibson-Evans, a Riverside resident whose family goes back five generations in Jacksonville. Passionate about his hometown, Gibson-Evans began promoting the city’s 200th birthday on social media back in 2013 and is serving as the Bicentennial Bell chairperson.

“Jacksonville is the oldest city in Florida of the modern era, factually predating admission to the Union,” said Gibson-Evans, “I think it’s important we set a statewide precedent of tasteful and timeless landmarks for future generations.”

Although similar to the Liberty Bell, the commemorative nature is different, said Gibson-Evans. Instead of ringing for freedom, the Bicentennial Bell marks a milestone in Jacksonville’s history, while also heralding the city’s bright future, he said.

“It’s not too late to make a donation to the Bicentennial Bell,” said Gibson-Evans. “Donors at the personal (individual/family) level of $1,000 or business level of $2,500 will be recognized with a permanent inscription of their choosing on the monument and publicly acknowledged at the unveiling.”

Donations can be made to the Jacksonville Historical Society; visit jaxhistory.org for details. For more information about Jacksonville’s Bicentennial Bell, call (904) 665-0064 or email communications@jaxhistory.org.

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About The Jacksonville Historical Society/Jacksonville History Center

The Jacksonville Historical Society, established in 1929, serves the public by maintaining an archival repository of documents, photographs, rare books and architectural artifacts relating to Jacksonville-area history. With offices located in the Old St. Luke’s Hospital building on Palmetto Street, the society raises funds for the restoration of local landmarks, provides speakers on a variety of Jacksonville history topics, and leads walking tours, among many other activities.

The Jacksonville History Center, a collaboration of diverse nonprofits, will be a place for the Jacksonville community to learn and experience who they are and what their history informs about the future. Located in the heart of the growing Sports & Entertainment District and composed of four historic structures – Old St. Luke’s Hospital, Old St. Andrew’s Church, the James E. Merrill House Museum, and the Florida Casket Company Building – the Jacksonville History Center will be curated against the backdrop of Jacksonville’s rich legacy of music, a world class archive, and a growing collection of the region’s historical artifacts. The center will be a local educational destination, a unique and engaging special events venue, and a must-experience cultural attraction for visitors to the region.