HANFORD — Patricia Dickerson had a secret, and it took every ounce of willpower she had not to tell anyone about the secret. But now the secret is out and she’s excited to tell the public about her news.

The Hanford Carnegie Museum, where Dickerson is the general manager, will now hold another significant piece of Hanford history: the bell tower that stood in front of the old fire station on Lacey Boulevard.

As of Thursday, the old fire station is gone but the bell tower now sits in front of the Carnegie at 109 E. Eighth St.

“We lost the firehouse, but we didn’t lose this. We won this battle,” Dickerson said.

Dickerson said when she and the Carnegie’s Board of Trustees realized that there was no way to save to old fire station from demolition, they came up with the idea to save and preserve at least one piece of the station’s history.

So, she said she went to City Manager Darrel Pyle’s office and asked if they could keep something. She said they knew the entire building was coming down so she asked for the bell tower, which stood in front of the building at the corner of Lacey Boulevard and Kaweah Street.

Dickerson said she was afraid the museum wasn’t going to get the bell tower, so she kept quiet but kept hoping.

“We didn’t hear anything for about a week, and then [Building Superintendent Randy Shaw] called and said it was ours,” Dickerson said.

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Dickerson said she didn’t know when the museum would be able to get the tower because the construction company was afraid of the tower possibly breaking, so they saved the tower at the site until all the demolition was done.

On Tuesday, Dickerson said she finally got the call that the bell would be ready to be picked up on Thursday morning.

Originally, the tower was supposed to be put in the backyard of the museum, but Dickerson said it ended up being too big. So, the bell tower now sits proudly in front of the museum facing Eighth Street.

“Now, everybody can see it,” Dickerson said.

The bell that used to hang on the tower has a long history, including being hidden during World War II so that it wasn’t melted down for scrap metal. Eventually the bell resurfaced and was placed on the tower outside the old fire station at 404 W. Lacey Blvd.

The bell was moved again to Fire Station No. 1 at 350 W. Grangeville Blvd., but the tower stayed at its previous location on Lacey Boulevard for decades.

The next step is getting a replica bell made to go on the tower, Dickerson said. She said donations will be taken to go toward funding the replica bell.

Dickerson wanted to thank Shaw and Pyle, without whom she said this wouldn’t have happened. 

Pyle said the city ensured the Hanford Fire Department was able to keep as much memorabilia from the old fire station as possible. He said they kept lettering off the building, the fire pole and even wall paper from inside the station.

“After the fire department secured those pieces they felt captured the essence of the station, we were happy to share with the Carnegie so that visitors and residents alike could enjoy the history,” Pyle said.

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Dickerson also gave a lot of the credit to the museum’s board and volunteers, who have been putting in a lot of time and effort into making this possible.

“It’s our history — the history of Hanford,” Dickerson said. “Our mission is to preserve and protect, which is what we’re doing.”

Dickerson said she couldn’t be happier about the timing of the museum getting the tower. With new carpet inside and new displays ready to be showcased, everything seems to be coming together for the grand reopening of the museum on March 10.

“We’re just excited that it all came together,” Tristan Long, vice president of the board, said.

“Getting that bell tower in, that’s just perfect,” Dickerson said. “We saved something, and that’s everything.”

The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com