Mysterious disappearance of historic bell in Columbia County

MALDEN BRIDGE — A large sign reading “Return Our Bell” is at the spot where a historic bell used to be along Albany turnpike– a bell with such significance to this community.

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“I was stunned. How could it just disappear right from our little pathway, the point here?” asked Community Center President Lucinda Buckley. “It’s very shocking.”

The historic bronze bell at the Malden Bridge Community Center was taken some time after people left there at about 9 p.m. the night of Monday, April 24.

“It was just a great shock to us all,” said Bronwyn Hannon, vice president of the Malden Bridge Community Center. “Who would want to take it? It’s so enormous and it’s been here for 50 years. Nobody has touched it and all of a sudden it’s gone and we were all devastated.”

“It was very important,” Buckley said. “It was an anchor to the past in the community a touchpoint for people at different points in their lives.”

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It rang at the end of wars, when people got married, when they died, and when they were baptized.

It’s a Meneely bell, originally bought by families in Old Chatham in 1878. It has the name of the pastor and seven trustees at the time. It was moved to Malden Bridge in 1975.

Stealing the 36-inch, 1,250-pound bronze bell would have taken some planning, a vehicle, several people, and some equipment to lift it.

They’re hoping people in the area will check security cameras, scrap yards will keep an eye out, and everyone will spread the word.

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“Even if you’re telling friends and family across the country,” said Buckley. “It helps to be alert, and in any case, you learn from our mistake. Maybe it needs to be secured better, maybe it should have a structure built around it, and get video cameras.”

There is now a $3,500 reward for information in this case.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Malden Bridge Community Center or the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department.