The Meneely foundry in West Troy
by Tom Carroll
The Meneely foundry in West Troy is one of the most significant bell foundries in the New World. It was founded in 1826 and went out of business sometime around 1851. The records of the firm are at the New York State Library in Albany, and a finding aid for that collection is available. During their history, they made about 75,000 bells. There's an amateur historian in town named Gene Burns who has tracked down about 8,000 of the ones that have survived to the present.
There was another Meneely bell foundry across the river from them, located at 22 River Street here in Troy. It came about because of a family feud. Andrew Meneely, the founder of the West Troy firm, had three sons. Before he died in his 40s, he had brought the oldest one into the firm. That son brought in the second-oldest after his father died, but the third son went off to fight in the Civil War. When he returned in the late 1860s, the two other brothers wouldn't let him into the business, so he crossed the river in a huff and started his own firm. That firm made about 25,000 bells, including the replacement for the Liberty Bell that hangs to this day in Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
We just took ownership of a West Troy Meneely bell that is 46" in diameter, weighs about 2,000 pounds, and was cast for a local Methodist church in 1889. That bell sold at auction on November 1st for $7,000 plus auctioneer's commission. I'm told that a run-of-the-mill Meneely can fetch about $3 a pound just now, and a really good one can fetch $11 or $12 a pound.
We have the records of the Troy Meneely foundry in our museum, including a comprehensive geographic index of every bell they ever made. There is also quite a bit of additional information about the history of bell-making in this area. It is unquestionably the most important bell- making region in the New World.
P. Thomas Carroll
In cooperation with Troy United Ink Corp., a not-for-profit corporation