JWMS Bell Tower Tolls for Your Help

The Johnson Williams Bell Tower project is making excellent progress, but community volunteers say that more help is needed.

“We’d like to start planting as soon as possible,” said Emily Rhodes. “If we can get the plants, we would like to have everything planted by the end of May.”

There are two bells located in the current CCHS bell tower. Did one bell come from the old tower at Johnson Williams Middle School? - Photo Edward Leonard

While much of the funding for the project has been raised by students and county civic associations, Rhodes said that more is needed in order to restore the bell tower to its original state.

With the jungle of vines and brush that had obscured the structure from view now gone, Rhodes said that the area is being replanted with Virginia native plant species that will require little maintenance and should do well with local conditions.

Rhodes said that community members that would like to contribute to the project are welcome to donate money, time or plants. (See plant list below)

The CCHS bell tower was donated by the Class of 1989 - Photo Edward Leonard

One important detail that remains to be decided is whether a bell will hang once again in the tower. There are currently two bells hanging in the bell tower at Clarke County High School, a large bell and a smaller bell. There is a strong suspicion that one of the existing two bells was moved from the current Johnson Williams Middle school tower when the high school was relocated to its current site.

(CDN Editor: Can any CDN reader identity the provenance of the second bell?)

If you would like to contribute to the JWMS bell tower project please contact Emily Rhodes at EmilyR7@Verizon.net.

JWMS bell tower landscaping plan (Click to enlarge)

Volunteers are asking for assistance obtaining these plants for the JWMS bell tower project. Can you help? (Click to enlarge)


  1. Bob Kelly says:

    I have no proof, but I believe both bells that are mounted in the tower at the new CCHS once hung in the tower at what is now JWMS. I also remember being told by Norma Morrison, who used to teach Latin at old CCHS, that one of the bells used to hang at the old Berryville High School and the other was from Boyce Agricultural High School. Incidentally Boyce Ag was one of the last Ag High Schools in VA. These schools graduated students at the end of their 11th year.

    Ask John Hudson. I’ll bet he would know.

  2. A huge Thank You goes out to Brad Motter of Motter Landscaping, here in Berryville, for DONATING his services and developing this landscape plan. He has been very helpful and is going to help keep us on task with this project!
    For those who would like to donate–Checks may be sent to J-WMS and payable to them, just make sure to write Bell Tower in the memo section. Feel free to contact me with any plant donations and I can stop by and pick those up or drop them by the front office at J-WMS.
    Regarding the bells, I am glad we are uncovering the history behind them and think that having this researched and documented will be a wonderful treasure for CCHS and all CCPS students. My personal opinion is that both bells should stay with the high school. Is there anyone with an extra bell out there?
    Now, off to Blandy to purchase some plants off the wish list!!!!!

  3. Bob Kelly says:

    Careful examination of both bells, which might require temporarily dismounting them, could yield foundry markings and other data to trace their origins.

    Another source of info would be old Clarke Courier issues. Might be worth inquiring about the old issues with Tom Byrd, since the Star bought the Courier before they folded it.

  4. There was another story on here a month or two ago when this was first uncovered. Seems there were some folks that knew a bit about the history of the bells in that one

  5. DAWN PRICE says:

    I have a 1979 yearbook and it shows 2 bells in the tower