A giant leap forward in the restoration of the Melscheimer One-room Schoolhouse happened Thursday, Nov. 29. The newly constructed cupola housing a restored school bell replica was placed on the roof of the schoolhouse.
What happened to the original school bell has never been determined, but a replica of the bell had been stored in the sawmill shed at the late Francis Young's property for a number of years. His widow, Mary Young, made the decision to donate the bell to the Melscheimer restoration project. The bell was sandblasted, restored, and painted.
Having no formal plans but relying solely on information gleaned from a picture of the schoolhouse, dated 1918, Jason Adolph, of Adolph Construction in East Sparta, constructed a cupola to house the school bell. Working with him on the project were Pike Township Road Supervisor Mark Pahanish, as well as Mehl Young and Ray Young, Francis and Mary's two sons.
With the expert assistance of a crane operated by Mike Handy, of Handy Equipment in Magnolia, the use of a lift by Coon Sealants of Louisville, and the guidance of the "ground crew," the cupola housing the school bell was guided to its new home atop the school.
The chilly air of the early morning was warmed by enthusiasm and excitement as the school bell housed in the magnificently constructed cupola was placed atop the schoolhouse. It was a perfect fit.
A rope to ring the bell had been thoughtfully installed by the construction crew, and Mary Young, who was present to witness the installation and who taught at Melscheimer School in 1938 and 1939, was invited to ring the bell. She willingly complied. The tone was perfect and "sounded just as I remember it," said Mary.
The Schoolhouse Restoration Committee voiced deepl appreciation for this generous donation by the Young family.
Adolph Construction is continuing with placement of the new metal roof on the schoolhouse. The progress of the project can be easily viewed when driving by the schoolhouse, at 1077 Melscheimer Street.
The ultimate goal is to provide a more convenient site for funeral services held at the adjacent historic Melscheimer Cemetery, when the weather is inclement or at the request of the deceased's family members.
Memorabilia of the school will also be included in the restoration.