On Wednesday, he watched the bell be taken down from its longtime home at 101 S. McCarran Blvd. He and the bell both lived for many years with the Brothers of the Holy Rosary in the former ranch house and former site of Bishop Manogue Catholic High School. Since 1997, the building has been home to Bristlecone Family Resources Treatment Center.
Through all the changes, however, the bell has stayed, hanging from a white brick tower just outside the main house. The last major change, which prompted the bell’s removal on Wednesday, occurred when the area flooded in 1997 and again in 2005. Now, the property is owned by the Truckee River Flood Project, which acquired the land in 2007 to become part of the Living River Parkway, a project to terrace river lands to create flood water storage as well as a new regional flood park. Flood project officials have been watching over the bell the past three years and and are now helping return it to its historic place.
Workers from Q&D Construction came out in the cold morning air Wednesday with tools to chip away at the bell’s brick housing. After cutting away the mortar, they used a forklift to carefully remove the bell and load it onto a flatbed truck for its journey back to a former home in rural Nevada.
“The diocese no longer owns the property,” Cunningham said Wednesday as he watched the bell being removed. “The bell needs to go back somewhere it’s going to be maintained and kept as part of the Diocese of Reno.”
That destination is Holy Family Parish church in Yerington. The bell’s life in Nevada started after it traversed the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Gold Hill, near Virginia City, at St. Patrick’s Parish Church in 1867. When that church closed in 1912, the bell was relocated to Yerington, where it stayed until 1960.
In 1960, the bell was relocated to the home of the Brothers of the Holy Rosary, then owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Reno, and placed in a new bell tower fronting East McCarran Boulevard. That is where it stayed until Wednesday.
The bell will be part of festivities in May when the church celebrates two major milestones: the 75th anniversary of Holy Family church building and the 110th anniversary of the foundation of the Holy Family Parish, which started in 1901.
Father Jorge Herrera at Holy Parish in Yerington said Wednesday that his congregation plans to build a memorial for the bell since they do not have a tower strong enough to hold it up.
For many of Herrera’s parishioners, the bell’s return is like welcoming back an old friend.
“There are a lot of people here in Yerington who were born and raised in that church,” he said.