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100 year-old church bells get a makeover

Bells at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Easton get redone

By Kevin Mertens - Staff Writer | Jun 6, 2021

The largest of the three bells from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church is shown above.

The storm which inflicted damage to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Easton happened almost three years ago, on Sept. 20, 2018.

In addition to damaging the roof and part of the interior of the building, the church steeple and bell tower also fell to the ground.

“Thankfully, the bells (there are three of them) came down outside of the church,” church Finance Council member Dale Stevermer comments. “There could have been more damage had they come down in the church. They fell at least 60 feet.”

Since the bell tower needed to be rebuilt, the parish decided it would be a good time to have all three bells refurbished.

“They are bronze and all three bells are over 100 years old,” Stevermer points out. “They are a harmonically-balanced three-bell peal.”

These are big, heavy bells.

“The largest one weighs 1,300 pounds and has a 41 inch diameter at the lip of the bell,” Stevermer explains. “It was cast in 1895 and was originally placed in the wood-frame church, which preceded our current brick structure.”

Two more bells were cast specifically for their current church building, which was completed in 1916.

“One of the other bells weighs 900 pounds with a lip diameter of 35 inches,” Stevermer says. “The smallest one weighs 500 pounds and the diameter is 28 inches.”

All three of the bells were the product of the Henry Stuckstede Foundry which was located in St. Louis, Missouri. Later the company was one of four bell companies purchased by the Verdin Company, which dates back to 1842.

“The largest bell plays the musical note of F,” Stevermer explains. “The next largest is tuned to G and the smallest one is tuned to C.”

Ringing bells this size would be one way to give a person a good workout, but the parish converted their bells to an automatic ringing system in 1985, according to Stevermer.

“The largest bell will have a striker so it can be used manually as a tolling bell,” he notes.

It was only recently the bells were returned to Easton in preparation for being placed back in the rebuilt bell tower.

“It is interesting to note that not many people have actually seen the bells before,” Stevermer comments. “Now, they have the opportunity to do so.”

Each bell has an inscription written in Latin from different verses from the book of Psalms. The two smaller bells also recognize a family the bell was given in memory of.

“Besides the bells themselves being refurbished, each bell also has new hanging hardware and new yokes,” Stevermer says. “It is possible they could be reinstalled by the end of June.”

Inspired Heights, a church restoration company located in Illinois, is set to be on site soon to begin work on the steeple. The Verdin Company will also be on hand to work with the installation of the bells.

“We still do not know when things will be completely done with restoring the church,” Stevermer shares. “But I am looking forward to hearing the sounds of the bells ringing again.”