Watch CBS News

Bells Older Than US Declaration Still Chime For 4th Of July In Old City

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- History tells us that all the church bells in Philadelphia rang on July 8th, 1776, for the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

One church continues that tradition, though its bells now ring on July 4th.

These are not just any church bells. Reverend Tim Safford says they've been hanging in the belfry of Christ Church in Old City since 1754.

"Christ Church bells were made in the same foundry as the liberty bell," he said. "One of them is the same size as the Liberty Bell, the same sound as the Liberty."

Except these never cracked.

Eight original bells and two added in memory of men who died in World War two still ring for services and special occasions, and even the bell-ringer has a history.

"It's like my little sanctuary up there," said Eugene Frohlich who became the bell-ringer in 1980. "I've been doing it almost 40 years now."

For the Fourth, Frohlich plays patriotic songs, to the delight of Calvin Brannon.

"There is a point where history comes down to one church, one set of bells, one small group of people who make a decision and it's still here," he said. "I think it's just extraordinary."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.