The Northwood Bell has become an iconic symbol of accomplishment and good news on campus since its arrival in the summer of 1998. The bell was the gift of then trustee and parent William Fitzgerald, whose children Billy ’00 and Siobhan ’10 have long since rung the bell at their own graduations. While the idea for a Northwood bell was jointly conceived by Mr. Fitzgerald and then Headmaster Ed Good over their shared notion to establish meaningful and lasting traditions, Mr. Good defined its role in the celebration of school pride and achievements from college acceptances and team victories to the arrival of newborn faculty children and Commencement.
Mr. Fitzgerald was born and raised in Troy, New York, where he grew up next to the owner of the Meneely Bell Company, sparking a life-long passion for bell collecting. On a tip that a Meneely bell was being sold at a shuttered boys’ summer camp in New Hampshire in 1970, he couldn’t resist making the trip. He purchased the 350 lb. bronze bell, struggling to load it into the trunk of his car, and made the trip back home to Troy to show his neighbor. Mr. Meneely looked up the bell’s foundry number in the company ledger to coincidentally find that the bell, which dated back to the 1800s, originally hung in Troy’s fire station just down the road. The bell was removed from the firehouse belfry prior to World War II when sirens largely took their place.
The prominent placement of the bell on the school’s oval was chosen by Headmaster Good. Its arches perfectly frame the main entrance of the Allyn Building facing north and the Norwegian Pine-lined driveway facing south. The posts were crafted to mirror the lamp posts which line the driveway while the pine trees and star were added to reflect the campus’ surroundings and match the sign which marks the campus on the corner of Mirror Lake Drive and Northwood Road. Fittingly, Mr. Good was the first to ring the Northwood Bell to signal the opening of school in September 1998.
Mr. Fitzgerald’s generosity also brought Northwood the front entrance gates and sign, hand wrought living room light sconces, custom hewn fireplace doors and tools, athletic field scoreboards, an antique brass mailbox in the Student Center, all front entrance driveway lamp posts, and a magnificent Adirondack oil painting.