Washington has now given a permanent home to a double-sized replica of the Liberty Bell, but the city apparently has midlaid one of the two full-sized replicas already here.
The new eight-ton $320,000 bell, donated by the American Legion for the Bicentennial celebration and kept in a storage yard for the past five years, was given a permanent but controversial home last week in what used to be a bed of roses in front of Union Station.
The missing replica and a statue of Alexander "Boss" Shepherd, which used to stand near each other in front of the District Bilding on Pennslyvania Avenue, were thought to be in storage at the Blue Plains Sewage Treatment Plant, considered by city officials a safe if incongruous place for storing statuary.
While Boss Shepherd was observed at the sewage plant this week, lying unceremoniously in the weeds beside his pedestal, there was no trace of the three-foot-high Liberty Bell. Sewage plant employes told The Washington Post they can't remember it arriving with Shepherd and don't know where it is.
City planning officials sais this week they have launched a search for the bell. However, even if it is found, the District has no plans for it or for the now recumbent Boss Shepherd, according to Joseph Bender, director of special projects for the city planning office.
The third replica of the Liberty Bell stands on the west steps of the U.S. Treasury, opposite the White House. It has been there since 1950, when 53 replicas were cast as a "sales stimulus" for a U.S. Savings Bond drive. The other replicas wree given to the states, the District and the Virgin Islands.
At last week's Union Station dedication, the new bell was rung; it is louder than the full-sized replicas. The boys of Boys Nation sang the national anthem and a dedication speech was given by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), who headed the American Revolution Bicentennial Committee.
The American Legion gave the seven-foot bell to the committee to tour the country on the American Freedom Train, and as the Bicentennial hoopla was drawing to a close Congress authorized the bell to be placed somewhere around Washington.
The site in Columbus Plaza outside Union Station, in a rose bed beside the ycolumbus fountain, was approved by the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts over the objections of the Joint Committee n Landmarks, which oversees Washington's historic places. The committee, which advises city and federal agencies, called the plaza an inappropriate spot for the huge bell, which it deemed "an aesthetically and historically unrelated object."