The wet and cold of Saturday morning did not hold up a crew removing a century-old bell from the steeple of Greenfield’s First Presbyterian Church.
The westbound lane of Jefferson Street was blocked by a large crane that lowered the bell, and then its cradle assembly, down to awaiting wooden skids as policemen directed traffic around the equipment. It had been previously determined that the best route by which to remove the bell was through the south window of the steeple.
The removal of the bell and its cradle assembly was done by workers with Leesburg’s Burgess Millwright Company in approximately an hour. After the removal of the estimated two tons of bell and assembly, the workmen got busy putting back the decorative framing of the steeple window that had previously been removed to make room for the passage of the bell.
The bell, which was cast by the C.S. Bell Company of Hillsboro, has not been used since the church installed an electronic system more than a decade ago. It was recently decided by church members to remove the bell due to the deterioration of the floor on which it has sat for more than a century.
The church was first opened in April 1903, according to the church’s website. The inside of the steeple is open to the elements, and has been for over a century. While the flooring on which the bell and its cradle have sat for 112 years was tarred to protect it, the years have left their mark and the floor was no longer able to safely support the bell structure, though the bell and its cradle remain in good shape, church member John Mitchell said last week.
With the bell now removed, the floor will be restored and the drainage system redesigned, he said.
The bell and assembly, as previously reported, are being stored on the church grounds until renovations are complete at the manse. The plan is to display the bell in the future and once again hear its peals on special occasions.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.