Liberty Bell Memorial Museum
This small, local museum merits attention for two reasons: It has an exact, un-cracked replica of The Liberty Bell, and it occupies the city of Melbourne's old concrete water tank. The Bell -- purchased by the schoolchildren of South Brevard County in a bicentennial fervor -- sits under the hole where the water used to pour in. Visitors are encouraged to ring it with a rubber mallet.
The museum is run by Peter Diaz, an ex-Marine. It radiates homespun patriotism. Among the displays in circular Heritage Hall -- the old water tank -- are a Statue of Liberty made of a store window dummy with a pillow crown, a reproduction of the Declaration of Independence, some old paper money and local Indian artifacts, a merry-go-round horse, and a miniature replica of the U.S. Capitol covered with glued-on pennies (made by another retired military man). "God Bless All Americans," reads its dedication plaque. In Freedom Hall, a connecting building, there's a wheel from a Viet Cong cart used on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and another dummy, this one in uniform, who stares at the stump of her missing hand.
Diaz and several of his friends used the museum as a refuge during recent hurricanes. He told us that he brought the contents of his home bar along, too, just in case everybody was stuck for a while. "This building wasn't gonna blow away," he says, confidently. It's reassuring to know that, in dangerous times, the replica Liberty Bell is secure yet always ready to be tapped with a mallet.