Former Hyde County Commissioner Bea Emmert, shown here with Curtis Stotesberry, was at the VFD’s event on April 28 to explain the Hyde County Courthouse Bell project and launch the first fundraiser.

Update May 16, 2018: The Ocracoke post office does not sell raffle tickets for any fundraisers.

By Margie Brooks

The Swan Quarter Volunteer Fire Department (SQVFD) is undertaking a new project to help the Hyde community raise funds for a permanent display for an old cast iron bell that once hung outside the old Hyde County courthouse.

During the 1920s, on the southeast corner of the historic 1854 courthouse, wooden steps led to the second floor with a small wooden landing at the top.

The bell hung on a pole on that landing and was rung to summon court back to order after lunch breaks.

Following a remodeling of the courthouse in 1962 that added annexes connecting it to the agricultural building next door, the bell was relocated to the west side of the annex.

At some point, the bell was relegated to the attic of the old courthouse where it was later discovered by Merita Spencer and Pam Sawyer (Register of Deeds office) and moved to their office. It eventually ended up in the new Hyde County Government Center in 2007. 

Current plans call for the permanent display, including a small park and benches, to be built in the green way between the new and old courthouses in Swan Quarter, which is the county seat. Hyde County native Ben Cahoon of Cahoon & Kasten Architects, Nags Head, is donating his services to execute the necessary drawings and construction plans.  Total project cost is estimated at about $16,000.

The first fundraising effort is a 50/50 raffle to provide the seed money to kick-start the campaign. Tickets were available at the SQVFD’s monthly lunch/dinner on April 28 and will soon be available throughout the county including the Ocracoke Preservation Society. The winning ticket will be drawn on July 4 with the winner splitting the proceeds.

This is a county-wide endeavor to preserve a part of Hyde County’s history. The bell is currently on display at the fire station on Oyster Creek Road. More details and fundraising opportunities will be forthcoming.

County residents and visitors alike are invited to help by supporting this project.

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