Editor’s Note: The following article was taken from A Guide to Lehi City’s Historical Sites and Places published by the Lehi Historical Preservation Commission in 1997.
On July 18, 1887, the Lehi City Council passed a curfew law to control vandalism caused by groups of youngsters roaming the town after dark.
The specific ordinance read: “It shall be unlawful for any person under fourteen years of age to be or remain in or upon any of the streets, alleys or public places in this city at night after the hour of nine o’clock, unless said person is accompanied by a parent, guardian or other person having the legal custody of such minor person, or is in performance of any errand of duty directed by such parent, guardian or other person having the care and the custody of such minor person, or whose employment makes it necessary to be upon said street, alleys or public places during the night time after said specified hours.
“Any person violating the provisions of this section shall, on conviction, be fined in any sum not to exceed five dollars for each offense and shall stand committed until such fine and costs are paid.”
In Sept. 1887, Mayor George Webb was authorized $50 to purchase a bell which was installed in a belfry atop city hall. The curfew bell, rung by the marshal every evening at 9, at first sent children scurrying to their homes. While the curfew age was eventually raised to 16 and later to 18, the pealing of the bell soon became ordinary, and children and teenagers could be seen playing under the town’s streetlights long after dark.
The June 20, 1901, Lehi Banner carried a police warning against “playing games on the Sabbath Day,” using “profane language on our streets” and disregarding the curfew. Offenders were warned to obey these laws or “find [yourselves] in the clutches of the officers.” For a time, these threats effected results, but eventually the law again became halfheartedly respected and enforced.
Aside from its curfew warning, the 9 p.m. sounding served as the standard for setting all Lehi timepieces. Many a Lehi citizen recalls seeing his father check his watch nightly as the bell sounded its timely signal. The bell also served as a fire alarm.
The town was divided into four quadrants, and the number of taps of the bell indicated the area of town citizens were to run to form a bucket brigade. The Lehi volunteer fire department was not formed until 1901.
Beginning in 1895, the curfew bell was also sounded at 9:30 each Sunday morning to announce Sunday School. The historic bell remained atop city hall (remodeled into a fire station) until a new fire station with an electric siren was completed in 1938.
The bell was then placed in storage and used only for early morning Fourth of July ringings, when it was hauled about town on a trailer. Enthusiastic, hammer-wielding firemen caused several notable dents in the old alarm.
In 1973, the historic bell was permanently mounted on a framework in front of the fire station
at 54 N. Center. When the new fire station at 176 N. Center was completed, the fire department installed the curfew bell in front of the new facility.
To learn more, go to the Lehi Historical Society’s online library at lehihistory.com. The online library is made possible by a Lehi City PARC grant and support from HADCO Construction.