Original Church Bell

Photographed December 11, 2014
Erected 2007 by Prospect Hill Restoration Foundation
New Berlin, Waukesha County, Wisconsin
42° 56.655′ N, 88° 9.615′ W
Google Map

Wisconsin's First Freewill Baptist Church was organized in 1940
and built in 1859. The bell was installed circa 1890.
The Ladies' Aid Society, by raising funds over three years tailing gooseberries,
sewing carpetbags and serving oyster suppers, purchased the bell from the
G. Campbell & Sons Centennial Bell Foundry in Milwaukee in 1899.
The cost was $118.40.

The bell called people to church and tolled for funerals until 1925 when the church
closed for lack of members. The ladies assumed ownership as Prospect Aid Society.
The bell cracked when it fell in the 1895 arson fire.
The church was later restored and the bell was replaced.

Bell provided by Prospect Hill Restoration Foundation
May 20, 2007

NOTE: According to The Inflation Calculator, what cost $118.40 in 1899 would cost $3,264.27 in 2013.

The bell and marker are located on westbound West National Avenue / County Road ES, just west of its intersection with West Barton Road, at 19750 West National Avenue, New Berlin Wisconsin 53146.

NOTE: There must have been some recent upgrades (within the past couple of years) to West National Avenue (a new route and a new bridge is my guess), because, even with the correct coordinates, my GPS had a very difficult time getting me to this location. In short, there is no longer an intersection of West National Avenue with South Racine Avenue. I finally used my intuition and was able to locate the church.

This wonderful, moving article includes a history of the church, the 1985 arson fire and restoration.

From a paper read by her at Big Bend at a meeting of the Waukesha County Historical Society in September 1925

The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Wisconsin: Waukesha County, and has also been designated a New Berlin City Landmark.

See also, Freewill Baptist Church, also at this location.

The Waukesha County Historical Society Freewill Baptist Church 
historical marker is also at this location. 

The bell is visible to the left of the church.

The bell is on the ground of the Freewill Baptist Church.

 The bell and church are located at the
Prospect Hill Settlement Historic District.

No comments:

Post a Comment