- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

ATHENS, Ala. (AP) - An 1871 bronze bell in the dome of the Limestone County Courthouse, which once called residents to the town square for important events, will be relocated for the second time in its life.

County officials plan to relocate the bell from the courthouse dome to a lower floor, so it can be on public display. The plans come amid a more than $7 million project to restore the courthouse, The Decatur Daily reported.

The bell still looks “brand new” and could be used as part of a first-floor display being planned about the history of the courthouse, Kelly Howard, a construction project manager overseeing the courthouse restoration, told The News Courier of Athens.

Plans for moving the bell, estimated to weigh between 200 and 300 pounds, were still being worked out on Wednesday, officials said.

Getting the bell down would “be a task,” Howard told The News Courier.

Howard said he hopes to display the bell with historic artifacts discovered during the restoration, including mail from the 1930s that had fallen behind baseboards and lead counterweights that once helped open windows, the Decatur newspaper reported.

The bell is a vestige of the county’s former courthouse built in 1867 at the same location. When the county outgrew that facility, the bell was salvaged before demolition and installed in the current courthouse which was completed in 1918.

The bell once called residents to the town square for important events such as fighting a fire. The bell was later fitted with actuators, so it would ring with the courthouse clock to mark the time, Howard said.

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