Kansas Liberty Bell replica
Location: Permanent on-site storage, lower level of Capitol parking garage
300 W 10th Street
Topeka, KS 66612
Serial Number: 21
Can I ring it? No
Hours: The Kansas State Capitol is open from 8-5 Monday through Friday, 10 to 4 Saturday, closed Sunday. However, garage hours and access to bell may vary.
Note: The bell is disassembled in a room by parking spot A197 on level P2 of the parking garage. Call ahead to the Capitol Tour desk and arrange your viewing. View details on parking at the Kansas State Capitol.
Why isn’t it out on display in front of the capital building?
This is a shame.
That’s a great question. It’s one of three (along with Wyoming and North Dakota) that have been relegated to storage garages. The Kansas bell has been out of public view the longest — as long as I’ve been hunting bells (nearly 20 years).
I know the bell was at the state fairgrounds in Hutchinson on a 5-foot concrete base until at least 1955. Apparently, visitors carved their names on the inside of the bell. At some point, it was located on the east lawn of the Kansas State Capitol grounds. But like many of the bells, it fell into disrepair and has been in storage ever since.
If you’re a Kansan, ask your local elected official about it. If you’d say, “One person can’t get a Liberty Bell moved.” I’d agree with you. But we’d both be wrong. In Boston, George Warren singlehandedly got the Massachusets Bell moved from an out-of-the-way (but much nicer than Kansas) location to a public park on Capitol grounds. The bell is currently being restored before its move.
If Topeka doesn’t want the bell, I think Lawrence could make a case for being the new home to the state’s bell, given the city’s record of being on the right side of history when it comes to fighting for Liberty.
It’s not outside the realm of possibility. I think $20–40k would get the bell restored, moved and installed in a new location.
I’ve been asked when it was moved off the State Capitol grounds. Does anybody have a date or even year? –Bill Sowers, State Library of Kansas, Topeka, Kansas
Bill, I’m glad to hear someone other than me is researching these bells!
Yes, I’ve been in touch with Joe Brentano, Coordinator of the Capitol Visitor Center. Here is what he says on the matter: “My understanding is that the bell was removed from display when the renovation of the Capitol was started and the parking garage was completed sometime in 2003.” That jibes with what I know. I recall seeing a list of bell locations from the Liberty Bell Museum in Allentown, PA in about 2005. While not terribly accurate, that list did say the Kansas bell was in storage. The poor condition of the yoke was cited as the reason for removal. Currently, there are no plans for restoration. Well, I have a crazy idea, but more on that later… Cheers!
According to a clipping from 1976, the bell was purchased through donations from the Kansas American Legion and the Legion Auxiliary. Do you know if they are aware of the bell’s situation?
DJ, Thanks for the comment. The clipping you reference is about a 3/8-scale, 235 pound Liberty Bell replica presented in honor of the state’s 115th birthday. I think that bell might still be on display in the Capitol. A challenge with the 1950 U.S. Treasury replicas, is they often don’t have a clear owner. The Treasury declared the bells would be given to the states and territories and presented them with plaques and certificates. But this is not how states acquire monuments and sometimes a bout of responsibility tennis ensues. There is no responsible department, no allocated funds for upkeep. So, unless citizens speak up and make it a priority (which has happened) the bells can languish in disrepair.