The resumption of bellmaking, announced with fanfare Wednesday by Matthew Bevin, the sixth-generation owner of Bevin Bros., was welcomed by many in Belltown USA, as this town of 13,000 people 20 miles from Hartford has long called itself.
, a 45-year-old businessman who fondly recalls putting "tongues" on bells as a child and now lives in Louisville, Ky., has vowed to build a new factory to replace the one destroyed by fire during a lightning storm May 27.
is doing it for the employees and the town, and was inspired by his
ancestors, who managed to keep the company afloat through technological change, the Depression and cheap oversees competition.
"We're fortunately wired not to quit," he
And the USS Maine, destroyed by an explosion in 1898 that triggered the Spanish-American War, had a bell made by Bevin
The company also boasts of making the little bell in the beloved 1946 Jimmy Stewart movie "It's a Wonderful Life."
Workers at Bevin Bros. feed massive coils of brass and steel into presses, which stamp out the bells using heavy dies that were recovered from the ruins of the burned-down factory and refurbished.
has spent several hundred thousand dollars on getting the temporary factory running and has no estimate of how much the new one will cost or when it will be ready.
had no fire insurance on the old building, which he
had just finished renovating before the blaze, but has received some insurance proceeds against a work stoppage, as well as a state matching grant.
Since the fire, residents have brought bells that have been in their families for years to show Bevin
, urging him to keep the company going.
"I've seen glimpses of what it means to them," he