1838 Church Bell Gives Up Its Perch

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Local History

A crew member from Baxter Crane and Rigging guides the bell to the ground.

HARWICH — Clearing the way for repairs to the leaky belfry, crews carefully removed the church bell from the First Congregational Church Monday afternoon to applause from a small group of spectators below.

Having cut away one of the columns to create a sufficiently wide opening, crews gingerly removed the 182-year-old bell from the belfry of the First Congregational Church in Harwich Center Monday afternoon.  Replaced by an electric carillon in 1982, the bell will be restored and eventually put on permanent display on the church lawn. 

Having cut away one of the columns to create a sufficiently wide opening, crews gingerly removed the 182-year-old bell from the belfry of the First Congregational Church in Harwich Center Monday afternoon.  Replaced by an electric carillon in 1982, the bell will be restored and eventually put on permanent display on the church lawn. 

After installing several temporary beams, contractor Teddy Baniukiewicz cut away one of the eight columns surrounding the belfry to allow the bell to slide to the edge on two planks, where a crane lowered it to the ground. The bell will be restored and eventually put on permanent display on the church lawn.

Though the historic bell has been silent since the church installed an electric carillon in 1982, it had one more thing to say before being removed for its restoration Monday. Church member John Bitzer lifted the hefty clapper and gave the bell a final tap.

“What a beautiful sound,” he said.

Contractor Teddy Baniukiewicz strains to pull the 1,038-pound bell to the edge of temporary planks high above the churchyard.  

Contractor Teddy Baniukiewicz strains to pull the 1,038-pound bell to the edge of temporary planks high above the churchyard.  

A crew member from Baxter Crane and Rigging guides the bell to the ground.

A crew member from Baxter Crane and Rigging guides the bell to the ground.

Church volunteers and spectators thank the contractors for completing the tricky job.

Church volunteers and spectators thank the contractors for completing the tricky job.