History of the Clock

When the church was being built in 1889 -90-91, there was a little enthusiasm by the south Side people for a citizens' clock in Beth Eden tower, as it could be seen from most all points. A small sum of money was raised, but then given back to the donors as it was not enough. However, when getting a contract for the chimes, the "clock" again became the cry. It was quite evident that a clock could be installed much easier and cheaper while the bell deck was clear than after the bells were set up. A committee was formed and the money was raised. The clock was purchased from the Seth Thomas Clock Company of Boston. The city fathers, believing the clock should belong to all citizens of Waltham, purchased it from the church. The city now owns the clock and keeps it in repair, furnishing the current to illuminate the dial faces.

History of the Bells

The bells of Beth Eden Baptist Church are the gift of Deacon George Hudson. They consist of eleven bells, each one dedicated to a family member and with an inscription. They were erected the last of 1916. The dedication service for the bells was held on December 31, 1916 from 10:00 pm to 12:00 midnight. The great bell tolled out the hour of midnight and ushered the city of Waltham into 1917. The striking of the midnight hour was followed by the sounding of the numerals 1917 on the great bell and then followed a concert on the chimes to which the whole city wakened to listen.

The eleven bells in the chime, comprising the eight notes of the octave "F" a sharp fourth , a flat seventh and one tone above the octave. This is an excellent range, having playing capacity for practically an unlimited number of tunes. The net weight of the bells is 10,000 pounds; with framing complete an estimated total of about 15,000 pounds. The bells are from the McShane Bell Foundry Company, in Baltimore and are cast of the very best bell metal, a composition of purest copper and tin of proper proportions, and tuned according to the system of equal temperament.

An important chapter in the story of the chimes was told at the time of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 when our beloved Lillian Shirley rang them every day for the 444 days Americans were held captive. There is a plaque in at the entrance of Beth Eden which holds the commendation from President Carter with a picture of Lillian at the console of the bells.

The bells over the years have been played by professional bell ringers, and members of the congregation. Christmas carols have been heard all over the South side of Waltham during the holiday season, and also for church events and weddings.

When the bells are silent, it is most often due to a surge of electricity to the area, which affects the clock timer.