NORWAY — The town will retain the Norway Opera House clock tower, making it not only the holder of the historic 1894 E. Howard Clock, but the owner of a bell that has ties to Paul Revere.

Jim Bryant of Wayne, keeper of the century-old timepiece, said William Blake, a 19th-century bell maker from Boston, made it. According to historical records, he was an apprentice of Paul Revere.

According to Bryant and other historical sources, William Blake and Co., was the predecessor of Hooper, Blake & Richardson. Blake was also a partner of Paul Revere III, the grandson of the great patriot who operated the Paul Revere Foundry in Boston. Revere cast the first bell in America in his Boston foundry in 1792. Prior to that, bells were imported from England.

Bryant said the bell is not top of the line, but a good one nonetheless.

“It’s middle of the road. It’s not the cheapest by any means,” he said.

It’s made of 80 percent copper and 20 percent tin, measures 38 inches across and hangs from a beam in a small room with four open arched windows. The room is under the clock in the tower. A hammer strikes the outside of the bell on the hour.

“The town clock is one of Norway’s most attractive features,” wrote the Oxford Democrat in November of 1894 after the Norway Business Association agreed to build the Opera House and clock tower. The association raised more than $800 to buy the clock, which cost about $500.

When it struck the hour for the first time in November 1894, the Oxford Democrat observed that the clock “speaks out in clear tones each hour and is a credit to the place.”

The original Opera House on Main Street burned in the Great Fire of 1894. That year, the association built another, three stories high and from brick.

It later was owned by the town, then a succession of private owners until the town took it by eminent domain in 2010 because it was considered a safety hazard. Bitim Enterprises of Londonderry, N.H., was compensated $185,000 after it failed to sufficiently stabilize the building after a section of the roof collapsed in 2007.

The town has received a grant to fix the basement and first-floor storefronts, and hopes to turn the property over to the Norway Opera House Corp.

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