RestoRING: Repairs needed before bell can toll again

Photo courtesy of LEO TRUDEAU This is a view from the bell tower looking northeast, showing part of the wheel that holds the bell and allows it to turn with the bell rope. The wheel also has to be repaired.

LYNDEBROUGH — It has been several years since the bell in the church at Lyndeborough Center has sounded, and then it was rung carefully by hand for a celebration.

When the steeple was repaired in 2012, the bell was braced so it couldn’t move and the pull was coiled so the bell couldn’t be rung accidentally. It was decided that the mechanisms that hold and ring the bell were too badly worn to be used safely.

During those repairs, it also was decided that ringing the bell could wait until more urgent repairs were done to the 1837 building.

Work on the exterior of the church was completed in fall 2015. A new roof was added, and the entire building was painted. The shutters were repaired and painted, and Ralph and Keith Dwire rebuilt — by hand — the decorative fan over the front doors.

Those who had worked at both the restoration and the fundraising decided to take a break.

Photo courtesy of LEO TRUDEAU The bell at the church in Lyndeborough Center was purchased in 1857, replacing an earlier bell that had broken.

Last fall, local contractors Leo Trudeau and Wally Holt again climbed into the bell tower to evaluate the bell. Many of the bolts that hold the bell to the frame are rusted, and some are missing. The wooden wheel that holds and turns the bell needs to be rebuilt.

Before that work can be done, however, the steps inside the tower have to be rebuilt. The cost of the project is estimated at about $6,000.

The Lyndeborough Center Church Restoration Fund, begun in 2012, is at TD Bank, P.O. Box 150, Wilton, NH 03086. All donations are tax-deductible. The fund was established by several concerned citizens and has no connection with the United Church, owner of the building. Fund organizers say they love the building and want to preserve it.

Church officials have said they have no funds to do the work and are more concerned at the moment with repairs at Village Church, the other half of the United Church of Lyndeborough, which was formed in 1967.

The church, originally Congregational, was built in 1837 when the town decided the original meetinghouse had to be replaced. The interior was extensively remodeled in the 1880s, and the steeple repaired a hundred years later.

Photo courtesy of LEO TRUDEAU This is the top of the bell, showing some of the rusted bolts that need to be replaced.

According to the town history, the church purchased a bell in 1850 for $300. That bell cracked for unknown reasons, and the present bell was purchased in 1857.

The history notes that until the mid-1800s, they followed the old custom of tolling the death of a resident, the number equal to the age of the deceased.

“Listeners could tell the age whether it was a man, woman or child,” the history says.

The bell was also used as a fire alarm and was rung if a person was lost in the woods to guide them out.

The church is located in the Historic District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places with Town Hall and the Town Pound.

In August, Monadnock Music in Peterborough will present a program of classical music in the sanctuary.