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Six Revere Bells

There's almost one in each state


What better way to ring in the New Year than with Revere bells – especially since Paul Revere was born on Jan. 1, 1735 (New Style).

Paul Revere

Paul Revere

A Revere bell in Bath, Maine, will ring in the New Year as it has since 2002. So will the Revere bell moved from a defunct church to the Old South Meeting House in Boston in 2012.

Revere was one of the few competent bell makers in the United States. He got into the business in 1792 when the bell at his church, the New Brick Church, cracked. Revere offered to recast it, though he knew nothing about molding and casting bells.

The first of the Revere bells, a 912 pounder, did not sound terrific.  The Rev. William Bentley wrote “the sound is not clear and prolonged, from the lips to the crown shrill.”

The Hunt for Revere Bells

But Revere and his sons Paul, Jr., and Joseph Warren went ahead, casting 398 bells between 1792 and 1828. They started  at their North End foundry and then moved in 1804 to Canton, Mass. The bells often bore the inscription “THE LIVING TO THE CHURCH I CALL AND TO THE GRAVE I SUMMON ALL.”

For the 1976 Bicentennial celebration, Evelyn Stickney and her husband Edward tried to track down every known Revere bell. They compiled a list of 134 bells, including 84 taken directly from the Revere and Sons stock books. Most of the bells are in New England, though there are Revere bells in Alabama, Georgia and Washington, D.C. The only Revere bell outside of the United States is in Singapore.

The Stickneys described the importance of bells in early New England: “The gabriel bell woke the people of the parish,” they wrote. “[T]he sermon bell announced it was time for the church services; the pardon bell rang before and after the sermon during prayers for the pardoning of sins; the pudding bell, which undoubtedly was the most popular, told the cook to prepare dinner while the church-goers headed for home; the passing bell tolled three times at a man’s death with a ring for each year of his age.”

St. Patrick Catholic Church

revere-bell-newcastleSt. Patrick Catholic Church in Newcastle, Maine, is the oldest Catholic church in continuous use in New England and the only one to own a Revere bell. It was founded by Irish immigrants and a French priest.

James Kavanaugh and Mattew Cottrill came to Boston from Ireland in 1781. They were building a church in Boston when Father Francis Matignon arrived from France, sent by the Pope. Kavanaugh and Cottrill were each married to their wives by Father Matignon in the early 1790s. The wives then moved with their husbands to Newcastle, a thriving shipbuilding area.

In 1798, an assistant to Father Matignon said the first Catholic Mass in Newcastle, probably at Cottrill’s home. Then in 1808, the congregation built St. Patrick Church for $3,000, with Cottrill and Kavanaugh each contributing $1,000. In 1818, Cottrill donated the Paul Revere bell to the church. It was one of the last Revere bells cast by Paul, Sr., who died May 10, 1818. The original cost $350, with another $165 to ship. It hung from a wood structure outside the church until the congregation added a brick bell tower in 1866.

First Unitarian Church

revere-bell-providenceProvidence started out as a Baptist community, and the first Congregational church didn’t form until 1721.

The Congregationalists built their first house of worship in 1723, which stood on the site of the current Providence County Courthouse. A larger church went up on the corner of Benefit and Benevolent streets, but it burned down in 1814. Local architect John Holden Greene designed a new building for the same spot. Finished in 1816, it was inspired by the New South Church in Boston, designed by Charles Bulfinch.

The bell, at 2,488 lbs., ranks as the largest cast by the Revere foundry. Though the Congregationalists founded the church, it became Unitarian in the beginning of the 19th century.

King’s Chapel

revere-bell-kings-chapel-1833King’s Chapel also claims to have the largest of the Revere bells, the last one he cast and the sweetest. (You can listen to it here.) But according to the Stickneys’ list, it weighs 2,437 lbs. – 51 lbs. lighter than the bell in Providence.

Royal Governor Sir Edmund Andros founded the King’s Chapel congregation in 1686, the first Anglican church in New England. The first church was a wooden structure at the corner of Tremont and School streets, where its successor stands today. It was built in the King’s Chapel Burying Ground because no resident of Boston would sell land for a church that wasn’t Congregationalist. John Winthrop and John Cotton are buried there; so is William Dawes, who rode with Revere on that famous midnight ride.

The current stone building was started in 1749 and built around the old wooden one. When it was finished, the old church was taken out through the windows, then sent to Nova Scotia. There the wood was used to build St. John’s Anglican Church in Lunenburg.

The King’s Chapel bell was cast in England and hung in 1772. It cracked in 1814 and was recast by Paul Revere. King’s Chapel has since become a Unitarian church.

Hampstead Community Center

revere-bell-hampsteadHampstead, N.H., has one of the oldest surviving meetinghouses in New England. It now functions as a community center.

The interior has been modernized and a floor was added where the balcony used to be. But the exterior hasn’t changed.

The meetinghouse was built in 1745, though the interior wasn’t finished for another 47 years. The Revere bell, cast by Paul Revere, Jr., rings from the belfry.

Five Revere Bells


Woodstock, Vt. has five Revere bells, the only community to be so fortunate. In 1818 three men traveled from Woodstock to Boston and bought a Revere bell for the First Congregational Church. It cost $319.95, at 45¢ a pound. It cracked in 1974, and is now displayed at the church.

Still ringing in Woodstock are Revere bells from the Masonic Temple, Saint James Episcopal Church and the North Universalist Chapel. The fifth is displayed on the putting green in front of the Woodstock Inn.

The Phantom UUSB Revere Bell

revere-bell-brooklynThe Unitarian Universalist Society in Brooklyn, Conn., has one of the few pre-Revolutionary church buildings in Connecticut. Built in 1771, it has since been restored.

The UUSB are the direct successors of the first Unitarian congregation in Connecticut. Its first minister, the Rev. Samuel May, was a peace activist, education reformer, temperance crusader, supporter of women’s rights and a supporter of Prudence Crandall.

Back around 1935, a Works Progress Administration survey reported the UUSB church had a Revere bell. The New England Historical Society, not seeing it on the Stickney list, consulted Dennis Landis, UUSB president and historian. He could not confirm the story.

“I had a chance to view the bell closely about 2001 and saw a different bellfounder’s name and the date 1828,” he wrote. “It remains an open question who made the original bell, which was repaired several times and recast. I don’t think there was any indication of the bellmaker in the church records, only that someone was empowered to acquire one. It would be reasonable for a Revere bell to have been secured, but we just can’t prove it.”

Photos: First Unitarian church of Brooklyn, Conn., by Doug Kerr from Albany, NY, United States – Brooklyn, ConnecticutUploaded by Magicpiano, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29832055; Hampstead Meetinghouse By Nlynch – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21779605; Revere bell in Pawtucket Congregational Church in Lowell, By Emw – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21009269; First Unitarian Church in Providence, By Kenneth C. Zirkel – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32710198



Wentworth Cheswell, the Black Man Who Rode With Revere - New England Historical Society January 1, 2017 - 8:36 am

[…] of Safety, which meant he had to carry news to and from Exeter, N.H. On Dec. 13, 1774, he rode with Paul Revere to warn Portsmouth citizens that two British warships were on their way to retake gunpowder and […]

Ken Zirkel January 5, 2017 - 12:06 pm

Dighton Community Church in Dighton, Massachusetts also has a Revere Bell. It’s not on display, it’s in the bell tower and is still in use.

Inanna Arthen January 5, 2017 - 8:05 pm

First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Ashby, MA also has a Revere bell–it has the Revere foundry stamp on it. It is in the bell tower and in use–expeditions up into the steeple to look at it are an occasional pastime at the church (the view is spectacular).

Diane Griffith January 5, 2017 - 10:14 pm

There is a 500 pound Paul Revere bell atop the Dwelling House at Canterbury Shaker Village, Canterbury NH. It was used by the Shakers (United Society of Believers in the first and second coming of Christ) to wake villagers, call them to meals, work, and services in the Meeting House. It is often rung for visitors on tour to this day.

The Six Oldest Restaurants in New England - New England Historical Society January 7, 2017 - 8:29 am

[…] today nearly every building on Main Street is on the National Register of Historic Places. A Paul Revere bell chimes on the hour from Hancock's […]

Judith Ford January 8, 2017 - 1:11 am

Yes. And the congregational Church on Main Street in Hancock, NH also has a Paul Revere Bell. It rings the half hours just as it has since its installation. We lived within hearing of its daily ringing. Do visit Hancock, it is a singularly beautiful little village. Have lunch at the Hancock Inn.

Dwight February 24, 2017 - 8:00 pm

Paul Revere Co bell is still used by the First Church of Christ in Longmeadow, MA. Purchased in 1809, cracked in 1815 & recast. This bell is also on the list.

Jean-Louis Cheverus, the Catholic Priest Even the Puritans Liked - New England Historical Society June 11, 2017 - 8:30 am

[…] of the Catholics, according to his biographer, Andre Jean Marie Hamon. Cheverus dedicated the first Catholic church in Newcastle, and ministered to the Penobscot Indians in Old Town, who had been converted to Christianity but […]

Six Stunning Gothic Revival Buildings By Henry Vaughan - New England Historical Society October 28, 2017 - 8:21 am

[…] St. Andrew’s, Henry Vaughan’s first parish church, is one of at least two notable churches in tiny Newcastle, Maine. The other is New England’s oldest Catholic Church in continuous use, St. Patrick’s, proud owner of a Revere bell. […]

Six Historic College Pranks and Where They Were Played - New England Historical Society April 28, 2018 - 7:57 am

[…] the early 1800s, Harvard students thought it amusing to ring the bell in Memorial Hall during the wee hours of the morning. But at Brown, students preferred to muffle […]

Mary Stackhouse May 4, 2019 - 1:01 pm

I came across this article while doing research on the history of the First Parish in Brighton’s church that was built in 1894. The building has been a Zen Buddhist Temple – Shim Gwang Sa – the Mind Light Temple, since 1981. We have a Revere Bell in our Bell Tower with the date 1821. The church building was built to relocated the First Parish and I did come across church records with information about the bell being stored in a barn during the construction of the new church.

Here is a link to a paper written by an Architectural student at BU:

The Rescue of the USS Constitution, Old Ironsides - New England Historical Society July 9, 2019 - 6:17 am

[…] seemed to bounce off her sides during her victorious battle with the HMS Guerriere in 1812. Paul Revere provided the copper sheathing for the sides of the frigate, built in 1797 of pine and […]

Six Irish Landmarks in New England - New England Historical Society August 22, 2019 - 7:23 am

[…] fished off the New England coast when New Hampshire and Maine belonged to Massachusetts. They built Catholic churches when Paul Revere was making bells, and they carved canals when John Quincy Adams was president. […]

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