On Monday, June 4, the silvery peals of a bell echoed through campus as the newly constructed Cheney Normal School Heritage Center was represented by the addition of a restored schoolhouse bell.
Donated by Jeanette Stiffler, the bell was removed from an old stand in Stiffler’s Cheney backyard and then taken to the Carpentry Shop where Eastern’s finest handymen took on the process of scrubbing, buffing and shining the historic bell. Heading the restoration and installment processes were Jim Allers and Ron Jamison.
“It was in pretty good shape,” said Jim Allers of the condition of the bell once taken from Stiffler’s backyard, “that old cast-iron of the past is quite impervious to the elements. A little rusty, but what can you expect?”
Painted from silver to gold, the bell now rests in its new home atop our schoolhouse. EWU Education Department head, Charles Miller, is very pleased with the bell’s appearance.
“The Carpentry staff was wonderful. This was their job-their project-and they are, and should be, quite proud of their work,” said Miller.
After the commencement ringing of the bell, the louvers surrounding the bell tower were ordered shut as to allow water leakage into the interior of the building. Many would like to see the necessary steps taken to seal the schoolhouse and keep the shutters open to display the new treasure in all its brilliant glory. Hopefully this will happen in the near future so all of Cheney can enjoy the history and heritage the bell brings.
Charles Miller is quite excited for the opening of the schoolhouse and the newly installed school bell. He realizes this is a wonderful opportunity for citizens to recognize the historical significance of our university and to see what our campus was back in its beginning days. Currently being held in the Education Department and waiting to be placed on display in the Cheney Normal School Heritage Center, are several desks, books, and an actual teacher’s desk and stool.
“The women teachers were a lot smaller back then. Barely five feet tall was average. The teacher’s desk and chair look like a child’s, but were actually used by the teachers themselves,” said Miller.
Miller is excited to teach others the history presented and represented in the tiny establishment.
“All the elementary students who come here for the Planetarium can now expand their tours. From the Planetarium, they can go to the Science Building for the exhibits there, then have lunch in the Mall, and finally to our museum. That will be happily fulfilled as they load back on their buses for the ride home,” commented Charles Miller with a smile.