We have celebrated a month since our last major property update, which means your property committee has enjoyed a short break. We've also started planning for the next phases of renovation: the restoration of our belltower, its steps and garden path, and related projects.
As those plans, still very rough, begin to take shape, GLC was very excited to receive an offer from the National Bell Festival, to assist with research and documentation related to our historic bell. As you may know, our historic bell has lived on a cart inside the church for the last 20 years... after the bell structure in our front yard began to deteriorate considerably. We hope to preserve and restore the bell, remove the rust on the outside, and make it usable again by the GLC congregation.
To kick off these bell restoration efforts, and introduce everyone involved, on October 4 we invited a small group of GLC leaders to meet with the board of the Bell Festival, and do something GLC has not done for at least 40 years: Open the hatch and ascend our historic bell tower.
See photos below, and this parallel posting by the National Bell Festival.
So what did we learn from this? The church's own history is fragmentary, and embellished at times. No one knew what to expect in the bell tower, but everyone was surprised to find old electric chimes.
In retrospect, this makes sense. We know that GLC's historic bell wasn't in our possession when the current building was erected in 1914. It was recovered in 1937 in West Virginia, and eventually installed in a structure in the garden in 1943. Why didn't they hang it in the bell tower? It's impossible to say, and we have no records of that discussion. Perhaps it was too heavy?
Regardless, as we look for answers, we've been re-reading Mamie Scrivener's 1955 history of the church (available on the History page), and noticed this with a new level of attention. Specifically, she talks about, "Chimes costing $3,000 were installed in 1947 from gifts of members," and, on Sunday mornings, "an altar boy... marches up Church center aisle to light the candles while organist plays chimes."
Perhaps we've rediscovered those chimes, which were installed after the church's bell found its permanent home in our garden. This voyage into history has definitely helped us start thinking about the next steps of capital restoration at GLC!