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District wants historic bell returned

Century-old artifact's ownership in question

Posted: October 24, 2008 8:05 p.m.
Updated: December 26, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 

It is all that remains of the 1908 Saugus schoolhouse, and the Saugus Union School District was hoping to have the old schoolhouse bell for its centennial celebration Sunday.

There's only one problem: The bell's ownership is in question.

The century-old bell is currently on display in a tower at the Jan Heidt Metrolink Station in Newhall, on permanent loan to the city from the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society. The Saugus district gave it to the historical society in the 1970s, but whether the bell was given permanently or just for safe-keeping is under dispute.

"We are hoping to enter a dialogue with the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society so that we can bring the bell back to the district and place it in our oldest school, Santa Clarita Elementary," said Judy Umeck, Saugus district board president. "When we realized where the bell was, we decided we wanted it back in the Saugus community."

Umeck and fellow board member Paul De La Cerda spoke to the city council about moving the bell at the last council meeting, but since it is on loan to the city the decision ultimately lies with the historical society.

The historical society plans to discuss the fate of the schoolhouse bell at its next meeting on Monday, according to member Pat Saletore. Saletore didn't want to comment about the bell until after the meeting.

"We haven't really discussed it yet," Saletore said.

Umeck hopes the historical society will decide to return the bell.

"We don't want this to be a public battle, but we would like to get it back," Umeck said.

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