Bell believed to be original on 1887 Pelican school

A new decorative fixture on the Pelican Rapids High School fixture is a monument to the distant past, and recent past. 

A vintage school bell, which is believed to be the original 1887 Pelican school bell, is mounted on a display by the new gym—which honors the late coach and educator Al Siegle. The display is also a tribute to late superintendent Ed Richardson, who died in 2019. 

Planted on each side of the bell display, two maple trees—which are an additional tribute to Richardson.

The demolition of the 1929 auditorium, in 2014, brought a largely forgotten piece of school history to the forefront. The bell was on the roof of the school, but wasn’t visible until the old auditorium was dismantled. 

For the past half-dozen years, school facilities superintendent Trevor Steeves had pondered how to re-purpose and display the 300 pound historic bell. 

The end result: A display of the bell, in a highly visible location, near the entrance to the Al Siegle Activities Center.

While it can’t be determined for certain that the bell is the original, it appears highly likely. The late Cecil Femling, said that when he started as a freshman at Pelican Rapids High School in 1935, a bell was in the tower of the original 1887-constructed brick school. Femling, in a 2014 interview, believed it is the original bell. Femling said the bell did ring a few times in the mid 1930s, but was largely unused.