Sheryl Ritchie stands atop Bath City Hall with her family and family before ringing the city’s Paul Revere bell to celebrate the new year. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Goudreau

BATH — The Bath community rang in the new year, once again, with a centuries-old bell cast by Paul Revere.

On Tuesday at noon, Bath Citizen of the Year Sheryl Ritchie rang the bell, which sits in the bell tower of city hall.

Bath’s bell was cast in 1802 by the Boston-based foundry Paul Revere and Son, 27 years after Revere took the midnight ride for which he is known. Dozens of Bath residents pitched in to raise $491 to pay for the bell.

In 1803, it was hung in the spire of North Church, Bath’s meeting house on the corner of High and Centre streets. After bouncing to various churches across Bath, the city purchased the bell in 1929 and it was moved to the belfry of city hall, where it hangs today.

Years ago, the bell was used to tell time as well as announce deaths, religious services and emergencies. Today, the bell is seldom used save for special occasions like New Year’s Eve.

The tradition of community members gathering to sing Bath’s version of “Auld Land Syne” and ringing the bell at noon on New Year’s Eve began in 2002 to celebrate the bell’s 200th anniversary. This year, Ritchie had the honor of ringing the bell surrounded by family and friends.

“Knowing the history behind the bell gave me a whole new appreciation for the experience,” said Ritchie. “This is what makes this town so special.”

Ritchie was honored for her volunteerism at Main Street Bath, a downtown development organization, and the Bath Elementary PTA, where she led its literacy committee.

The Revere foundry cast a total of 398 bells between 1792 and 1828. In 1971, then-Bath resident Perleston L. Pert was able to identify 23 Paul Revere bells in the state. Of those, only four bells, including Bath’s, was cast by Revere himself before his death in 1818.

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