This bronze bell hung in the tower of City Hall, on the north end of market Square, beginning in the 1880s' Rung by the police chief, the bell signaled civic emergencies such as major fires and riots, via a number-based code. An effective means of community alerts in the days before radio, it could reportedly be heard in every corner of the city.
The bell was purchased by the city from McShane & Co. of Baltimore in 1883. At 25 cents per pound, and weighing more than 2,500 pounds, it cost $640.50. A new belfry had to be built to hold the bell, and lighting rods were added. When the new City Hall building was constructed in 1888, the bell was moved there.
After it was removed from City Hall in the 1930s, the bell enjoyed a second life at the Burlington Fire Station in East Knoxville, where firemen struck it with a hammer to signal blackout drills during World War II. In the 1980s, the bell returned to Market Square, where it hung for a time in another market pavilion. It was refurbished in 2005 by McShane, the same Baltimore company that manufactured it.