Bells removed from St. Louis Church

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Alan Manoian studies two of the four bells that were lowered from the bell tower at St. Louis Church in Auburn on Wednesday.

AUBURN — Workers from Cote Crane & Rigging removed the bells of St. Louis Catholic Church Wednesday, using a crane to lift the four bells from the tower above New Auburn and place them on the ground nearby.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Crane operator Chris Lee of Cote Crane & Rigging lifts the first of four bells from the bell tower at St. Louis Church in Auburn on Wednesday.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Jim Daigle, left, and Tony Landry, riggers for Cote Crane & Rigging, unhook the second of four bells that were removed from the bell tower of St. Louis Church in Auburn on Wednesday. 

The bells have been purchased by an undisclosed buyer and were shipped away.

The work is a precursor to the demolition of the grand, neo-Gothic building, which held its final Mass in August. Officials from Auburn's Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish have decided to raze the building.

However, the demolition is not yet scheduled, said Dave Guthro, spokesman for Maine's Roman Catholic diocese.

"There is no timeline for what will happen with St. Louis Church," Guthro said. "We are really in a holding pattern to see if any additional offers come in."

Grow L+A, a nonprofit dedicated to growing Lewiston and Auburn by promoting responsible development, is meeting with the Diocese of Portland's in-house restoration and construction company Monday to see whether the building could withstand another winter, said Michael A. Koch, a member of the task force trying to save the church.

"We just want to keep it standing," Koch said. "A fun community center for this neighborhood would be great."

The church was designed by architect Timothy G. O'Connell. He designed St. Mary's Church in Lewiston's Little Canada neighborhood and would later design the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston.

The bells were made in 1915 by Paccard Bell, a 217-year-old foundry still operating in France. The ornate detail and Latin inscriptions are unusual, said Alan Manoian, an economic development specialist with the city of Auburn.

"These are the first bells that I have seen from a foundry in France," he said, adding that he has climbed "countless church towers" and studied "hundreds of bells."

Auburn Mayor Jonathan LaBonte watched as the bells came down. He said he was growing impatient with church officials, who have declined to work with his office to discuss redevelopment of the church, rather than its demolition.

"If we lose this building, we have not done our job," City Councilor Leroy Walker said.

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Brian Franck's picture

The bells should not have been removed from this building!

They are part and parcel to the church's historic and architectural significance. I can understand fully Mayor Labonte's "growing impatience" with church officials' lack of cooperation in the matter.
The Auburn Catholic Community now has a real "bum steer" as it's current "pastor". I dealt with this "clown" when he was in charge of the Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. Years ago, I sent this "gutless wimp" not one, but three letters, two of which concerned the protection and restoration of the Casavant pipe organ in the upper church's rear gallery. He did not have the courtesy or decency to reply to the letters or follow any one of my suggestions!
Instead, the "idiot" allowed a completely incompetent buffoon trained in the repair of electronic, not pipe organs, to damage both the front and rear gallery pipe organs at a cost of several thousand dollars to fix. In addition, the nitwit "would be" organ repairman "Shang hayed" the parish out of $50,000.00 by getting them to purchase a four-manual Baldwin "monstrosity" of an electronic organ console that turned out to be a useless piece of junk! Luckily, those disasters, both human and machine are long gone.
Yet the "pastor" remains, now moved to the Auburn Catholic Community to wreak havoc and impose his administrative incompetence on some new unsuspecting people. His style is to avoid confrontation and run in the other direction, perhaps partially explaining why I never received a reply to any of my letters.
I left a message on Mayor Labonte's voice mail some time ago, encouraging him to step in and prevent the Diocese of Portland and this "pastor" from removing the beautiful stained-glass windows from the building so that they could be sold for a "Judas Iscariot" type of profit.


Church bells

I guess that answers my question. Thanks


Undisclosed buyer

What the big secret about who bought the bells. Shouldn't that be public information?


Undisclosed buyer

What the big secret about who bought the bells. Shouldn't that be public information?


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