First Presbyterian Church, San Jose; Joining hands with Christ in the Inner City

The church bell … our connection with the past!

Gracing the entrance of the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church, just east of Town Park Towers, is a rather large bell. Why is it there? The bell has been part of First Church since 1869, when our congregation was still housed in its first building. The bell was cast in the foundry of William T. Garrett in San Francisco and weighs 1,780 pounds.

The church bell in front of First Presbyterian Church, San Jose, CaliforniaBack in those days, the women of the church, held suppers, socials and fairs to pay the cost of the bell … $1,068.75! When the 1906 earthquake destroyed the building, the steeple (containing the bell) fell across Second Street. A nick in the outer rim is the only scar on the bell from the incident. The bell was installed in the building at 60 N. Third Street. Debates took place at that time as to the strength of the building and its ability to support the bell. Finally it was installed, and performed its tuneful function, signifying hours of worship, funerals, etc., until the building was torn down.

During all of those years the bell was only heard by human ears, and only seen by the pigeons, birds, and bats that frequented the belfry. In building churches today, steeples and belfries are cost prohibitive and considered a luxury. We are proud to display this glorious link to our past at the entrance of our "new" sanctuary, where everyone can see it! We enjoy its beautiful resonance on special occasions.

-- from a 1973 article by May L. King

First Presbyterian Church | 49 N. 4th Street | San Jose, CA  95112 | 408-297-7212 | Site Map