Ringing in celebration in Harmar

Bells will be tolling across the Pioneer City this weekend as Marietta marks two-and-a-quarter centuries since its founding on April 7, 1788.

Six-year-old Finnegan Lohrey was among hundreds of Harmar Elementary School students who participated in the time-honored annual ringing of the bell at the historic Henry Fearing House museum on Gilman Street Friday.

“We rang the bell because it’s Marietta’s birthday,” Lohrey said, adding that this year is extra special because the city is 225 years old.

Fellow kindergarten classmates Jessica Books and Cooper Sparks shouted “Happy birthday Marietta” as they pulled on the bell rope in the backyard of the Fearing House, assisted by museum docent Glen Wolfe, dressed for the occasion in 18th Century period garb with tri-cornered hat and red woolen cape.

“The bell-ringing is done every year by Harmar Elementary students in celebration of the founding of Marietta,” Wolfe said. “We encourage each one to yell ‘Happy birthday’ when they ring the bell. And this year, for the first time, we had one class that sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to the city.”

Docent Mary Jo Hutchinson said the bell-ringing ceremony goes back a long way.

“We’ve had adults come in and say they recall ringing the bell when they were in school here,” she said. “The bell-ringing usually takes place on April 7, the day of Marietta’s founding, but this year that date lands on a Sunday, so the teachers brought students over today.”

The large bell, suspended from a small tower behind the house, came from a local farm, according to Wolfe.

“It’s actually a dinner bell that was used on a Washington County farm,” he said. “They would ring the bell to call people in from the fields when it was time to eat. Dinner bells were quite common on area farms at one time.”

Later on Friday students heard Nick Gatz, Southeast Ohio regional liaison for Gov. John Kasich, read a proclamation from the governor, honoring Marietta’s 225th anniversary, followed by a presentation on the city’s founding and founders by local historian Scott Britton.

For those who don’t happen to be among the kindergarten through fifth-grade students at Harmar Elementary, the general public will also have an opportunity to ring the Fearing House bell and wish Marietta a hearty happy 225th birthday from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday. The house is located at 131 Gilman Ave. in the historic Harmar District.

Another type of bell can be heard from 12:30 to 1 p.m. Sunday as a variety of patriotic tunes, performed on the carillon at the First Congregational Church at 318 Front St., will mark Marietta’s anniversary celebration. Visitors are welcome to ascend into the church bell tower to watch Nancy Riley, past regent of the Daughters of the Revolution, as she creates music by manipulating the carillon’s wooden levers.

Weekend activities-part of the 14 Days with the Patriots and Pioneers program that began Monday-will include, among others, a “Marietta Imagined Exhibit” Saturday at the Campus Martius Museum, 601 Second St. where visitors may tour the Ohio Company House that was constructed in 1788 as well as the General Rufus Putnam House that was part of the original Campus Martius fortress.

Reenactor Chuck Bell as George Washington will also be at Campus Martius at 1 p.m. Saturday.

On Sunday, from 10 to 11 a.m., a special service commemorating the city’s 225th anniversary will be held at the historic First Congregational Church, providing the history and detail of the early church and its teaching. The community and guests in Colonial period clothing are welcome to attend.

At 1 p.m. Sunday a program marking the landing of the first 48 pioneers at Marietta will be held at the Start Westward monument in East Muskingum Park, followed by a processional from the monument to the Ohio River Museum at the Campus Martius wharf on Front Street.

Also, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Miami University of Ohio Professor of History Andrew Cayton will present “Marietta in Memory, History & Imagination” at the Campus Martius Museum. The talk will focus on the personal and professional regarding the legacy of Marietta’s founders.