NEWS

Old Belfry memorial stolen from Lexington Battle Green

Staff reports

The memorial plaque honoring the former location of the Old Belfry was stolen from the Battle Green late last week.

Pieces of the stone that housed the plaque honoring the Belfry were strewn about the ground Monday morning, below a gaping hole in the stone where the memorial once rested. The Belfry was used to sound the alarm April 19, 1775 at the beginning of the American Revolution.

Sources say the thief or thieves may have stolen the plaque to sell for scrap.

“It’s hard to imagine someone breaking it off for simple vandalism,” said Susan Bennett, executive director of the Lexington Historical Society.

The plaque was installed in 1910 by the Lexington chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

Shirley Lane, a member of the Lexington DAR, heard of the theft Sunday afternoon while on a tour of Lexington’s historic houses. She said the group will meet Wednesday to discuss next steps for the memorial.

“I would hope it’s a college prank and that somebody will return it because it does mean a lot to the town, and to us,” Lane said.

Police aren't so sure the heist was the work of pranksters.

"The amount of work needed to remove the plaque was substantial" said Lexington Police Lt. Manuel Ferro. "We are increasing our patrols in the area, on all the historic markers."

Lane said the four rosettes on the plaque have been damaged in its 109-year lifetime. The DAR hired Natick restorer Brian Starr to replace the rosettes and refurbish the memorial about 12 years ago. Starr said he is in the process of researching the bronze plaque’s value for insurance purposes.

“It’s a sad loss,” he said.

Bennett said the Historical Society does have a rubbing of the plaque, which could be used to create a replacement.

“The plaque can be replaced," Ferro said. "That’s not the issue. The issue is the historical significance.”

The history

According to the Lexington Historical Society, the original Belfry was built in 1761.

  • In 1768 the Belfry was moved to the Common from Belfry Hill and remained there for 30 years.
  • In 1797 it was purchased by a son of Capt. Parker and moved to the Parker Farm and used as a wheelwrights shop.
  • In 1891 it was purchased by the LHS and placed on the hill where the replica remains today.
  • In 1909 a gale destroyed the original Belfry structure The Lexington Historical Society rebuilt the Belfry where it stands today on Belfry Hill. The original bell was 463 pounds and sounded the alarm on the morning of April 19, 1775. The original bell has disappeared but the Historical Society retains the original clapper in its collection.
  • In 1910 the Lexington Chapter of the DAR commissioned the boulder and bronze plaque monument to be placed at the site of the Old Belfry on the Common. This monument was installed and dedicated in October of 1910.

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