Today, the Lexington-Concord Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin tells the story of the plaque honoring the location of the Old Belfry.
The State Regents’ Reports of the Twentieth Continental Congress of the Daughters of the American Revolution held in April 1911 reported:
“Lexington Chapter on October 19, 1910 dedicated a boulder with beautiful bronze tablet to mark the spot where the old ‘belfry’ stood on Lexington Green, when the alarm was rung on April 19, 1775, calling our ancestors to arm for liberty. It has also contributed toward the preservation of the Royall House. Membership, 25.”
The Boston Evening Transcript of October 20, 1910 provided a summary of the previous day’s activities in Lexington:
“Old Belfry” Tablet Dedicated
Daughters of the American Revolution in Lexington Hold Interesting Patriotic Ceremonies
Members of Lexington Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, of which Mrs. Edward Harold Crosby is regent, had a celebration on this anniversary of “Yorktown Day” to commemorate the opening of the stirring events of the Revolutionary War, just as the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown on October 19, 1781, closed the war hostilities.
The chapter yesterday unveiled and dedicated a bronze tablet affixed to a boulder marking the original site on Lexington Common of the famous “Old Belfry,” from which was rung the alarm to arouse the people on the morning of April 19, 1775, when Paul Revere rode through the Middlesex farming country as the first to “spread the alarm.”
In the afternoon the members of the Lexington Chapter were escorted to the Common, the historic battleground of the early day, by the Lexington Minute Men, dressed in Continental costume, the Grand Army post of the town and the school children.
Mrs. Crosby, as regent of the chapter, presented the memorial to the town, and Frank D. Pierce, chairman of the selectmen, accepted the gift.
The tablet was unveiled by Miss Elizabeth Parker, a descendant of Captain John Parker of Revolutionary fame.
Addresses were made by Representative Edwin A. Bayley and James P. Munroe, historian of Lexington.
Member of various patriotic societies were among the guests and onlookers.
Interestingly, the Massachusetts Historical Society described the many moves of the “Old Belfry” in their narrative of the historic building:
The original belfry was located on the Green and rang the alarm that the British troops were coming on the night of April 18-19, 1775. Constructed in 1761, the building originally stood on Belfry Hill behind Lt. Jonas Munroe’s House. It was moved to the Green where it stood until 1797.
In 1797 the belfry was sold to the Parker family (John Parker, Captain of the Minute Men descendants, including Theodore Parker, transcendentalist, abolitionist and friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson).
It was moved to Spring Street at the intersection with old Concord Road. It was used as a wheelwright shop.
In 1891 the belfry was acquired by the Lexington Historical Society and moved to the new Hancock School lot on Clarke Street in April.
On June 20, 1909 the old belfry was destroyed by a gale wind. The present reproduction was installed in March 1910. It was moved from the back end of Belfry Hill to its present site in 1913.
In March 1964 William Maloney donated a 1,600 pound bell to replace the previous badly-cracked bell. The replacement bell once hung in the Wilmington Methodist Church.
In November 1971 the Katharine Harrington House at the corner of Clarke Street and Massachusetts Avenue was torn down to make way for Belfry Hill Park.
The Lexington-Concord Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows beside a view of the Old Belfry, circa early 1900s.