Ryan Hall School Bell

Historic School Bell Moves to New, Safer Location

Story and Pictures By Rachael Smith, Nelson County Times, Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Before electronic school bells let children, teachers and staff know when each class was beginning, lunch was ready or school was letting out, children in Nelson County were alerted by an actual cast iron bell.
Historic Bell
Though the school is run down now and vacant, many of those who attended Ryan Hall in Shipman are still around and recall that old familiar sound of their childhood.

With concern the old bell might soon fall and break to the ground or be stolen, Nelson County Board of Supervisors’ Chairman Larry Saunders took it upon himself to see that the bell was moved to a safer and more suitable home.

The bell was moved to the Heritage Center last week by Saunders, Rev. James Rose and County Maintenance Supervisor Paul Truslow.

Larry Saunders Moved the Bell

“My concern was that I wanted it to be moved to the Heritage Center because this is part of the history of African-Americans,” he said. “I didn’t want to see it be lost, destroyed or stolen. I’m a history buff myself and would like to see things preserved and kept.”

The school was named after Thomas Fortune Ryan, owner of Ryan’s Plantation. Ryan gave the school to the Shipman community for black children to have a place of education in 1924.

It was originally known as the Shipman Colored School.

The Heritage Center on U.S. 29 in Arrington was once a high school for black students.

Larry Saunders presents the Ryan Hall School Bell to Rev. Rose
Larry Saunders presents the Ryan Hall School Bell to Rev. Rose

Rev. William Foster, who attended the school, said the bell has a lot of history. Though he said he wished there had been a meeting first on what to do with the bell, he feels there is no better place for the bell than at the Heritage Center.

Foster said the bell eventually will be mounted outside the center in possibly a coupla. There will also be a plaque to go alongside the bell.

Saunders also has two of the original blackboards that he wants to be held at the Heritage Center.

“This is the proper place for it; this is where it belongs,” he said.

Contact Rachael Smith at (434) 385-5482 or rsmith@newsadvance.com.

Authorized and Paid for by
Saunders for Supervisor
P. O. Box 394, Lovingston, VA 22949