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Next semiquincentennial bronze bell location announced

The Hawley Silk Mill is an important part of the greater Wayne County community.

To honor the mark it’s left on not only the region but also the country, a Semiquincentennial Bell will be placed out front this fall.

"A structure such as the Hawley Silk Mill, is the perfect place to keep the stories and spirit of progress, alive and instructive," said state Sen. Lisa Baker.

Baker, along with other elected officials and leaders, made the announcement in the mill’s Boiler Room.

“The mill was a marvel from the onset," she said, "and that is something deserving of our recognition and acclaim.”

America250PA coordinates programs, projects and events across the commonwealth to honor the 250th anniversary of the United States in 2026. The commission is placing bronze bells at historically significant places whose stories are untold or not widely known. They are over five-feet-tall.

"This specific bell will highlight the remarkable work of the individuals — primarily immigrants and women — who helped forge this great nation during the Industrial Revolution right here in Pennsylvania," said Cassandra Coleman, executive director of America250PA.

The first bell in the commonwealth was placed at the Dennis Farm in Susquehanna County in June.

The Belmont Silk Mill was built in 1882, said Justin Genzlinger, CEO/owner of Settlers Hospitality, which is the presenting sponsor of the Semiquincentennial Bell. Genzlinger is also a member of the WVIA board of directors.

A fire destroyed the mill shortly after it was opened. It was rebuilt in 1884 in just 10 months, he said.

Some engineering documents suggest that the mill was the third building in the country powered by electricity, Genzlinger said.

The mill is also believed to be one of the largest blue stone structures in the world.

The Sherman Underwear Factory closed in the 1980s and was the last textile operation in the mill. It was then used for antique reproductions, warehousing and retail. That closed in 2009 and the Genzlinger family bought the mill as well as other adjoining properties.

The mill now houses a Lackawanna College satellite campus, small businesses and a gym.

When state Rep. Joe Adams was a kid, he delivered papers to the mill.

"Many of our friends and many of our family members ... worked in the mills ... that's what people in Hawley did," he said.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.

You can email Kat at katbolus@wvia.org