Church Bell a Monument

Former City Hall bell moved from church to become monument on Main St - Nashua, NH.

By LYNN TRYBA, Telegraph Staff
 


 

How do you move a 2,414½-pound bell out of a church belfry?

Very carefully.
A crew from Bormann Bros. of Pepperell, Mass., worked for four hours with a crane and a winching device Tuesday to inch the bell from the steeple of the New Fellowship Baptist Church on Ash Street in Nashua.

The workers finally lowered the bell and its yoke with a combined weight of about two tons onto a truck bed around noon .

It was easy to see pockmarks on the cast steel which had, at some point, been painted silver, said Alan Manoian, the city's assistant economic development director, who put in some detective work to track down the former City Hall bell.

This bell has taken a beating, he said .

It didn't surprise him.

How do you move a 2,414½-pound bell out of a church belfry?

Very carefully.

A crew from Bormann Bros. of Pepperell, Mass., worked for four hours with a crane and a winching device Tuesday to inch the bell from the steeple of the New Fellowship Baptist Church on Ash Street in Nashua.

The workers finally lowered the bell and its yoke with a combined weight of about two tons onto a truck bed around noon . It was easy to see

The 143-year-old bell, which will be made into a city monument, has a long history of service to Nashua . The fire department bought it from Naylor Vickers & Co. of Boston in 1863 for $827.35. It was hung in Nashua 's first City Hall to serve as a central fire alarm.
Before that, the department had to rely on bells in factories and churches to alert firefighters, Manoian said. Those bells weren't always accessible. At other times, bells would be rung all over the city, resulting in chaos for firefighters, who wouldn't know where the fire was, he said.

The bell, 4 feet 7 inches in diameter, also was used to mark holidays and historic events such as the end of the Civil War and the deaths of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. After being removed from a deteriorating City Hall in 1936, it was used for church services.

The monument, once created, may be used to mark the site of Nashua 's first City Hall, which was built in 1843, said Paul Newman, director of urban programs for the city. He said people often wonder where the site is.

Nashua's original City Hall, which was torn down in 1940, was on Main Street between the Odd Fellows building and 100 Main St . The building there now houses Howard Dean's campaign office, among other things.

The bell was moved from City Hall into storage in 1936 after the building's bell tower was deemed structurally unsound, Manoian said.

By 1940, the bell was acquired from the city by the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation on Ash Street , now home to the New Fellowship congregation.

In 2001, an independent bell appraiser placed the value of the bell at about $8,500. Markings on the bell indicate it could have been made in Sheffield , England , a famous center for steel products at the time, Manoian said.

The church and the Urban Programs Department entered into negotiations for the bell two years ago, the Rev. Bertha Perkins said. The value of the bell was subtracted from the purchase price that New Fellowship paid when it bought its building from the Police Athletic League last year, Newman said.

The reduced price will help the church to begin restoration efforts for the 90-year-old building, which will need about $250,000 worth of work, Perkins said.

She cried after the bell came down.

”It's a lot more sad than exciting, Perkins said. I t could have stayed there, as far as I'm concerned, forever.”

While the bell's clapper was banged up and dented, the bell was still fully functional. Every Sunday for the past seven years, New Fellowship's deacons have rung the bell via a rope at the beginning of services. Sometimes children rang the bell with the help of adults, Perkins said.

We're letting it go home to rest, she said .

For now, the bell will reside outside 14 Court St. , on the side facing the old courthouse, Newman said. Ironically, 14 Court St. use to be the city's central fire station. When it was erected in 1870, it was built with its own alarm system, and the bell at City Hall was no longer needed by the fire department, Manoian said.

Manoian and Newman said they hoped to organize a fund-raiser to turn the bell into a monument.

Instead of having a corporation pay for the landmark, Manoian expressed enthusiasm for the idea of creating a people's bell, in which every resident could donate a small amount , perhaps just $1, toward the monument.

Lynn Tryba can be reached at 594-6402.


**The historic Bell now has a permanent home on Main Street - Nashua.
   It was moved to its final location on Tuesday, August 12, 2008.
   It is located near 106-130 Main Street.




Subpages (1): Tradition Restored