A restoration of the Chesterville Meeting House bell tower was completed Friday morning, May 22, when the tower and 1,000 pound bell were put back in place. Submitted photo

CHESTERVILLE – Following a six month restoration, the Chesterville Center Union Meeting House bell tower was returned to its home on top of the Meeting House, Friday May 22, 2020.

At 11 a.m. Monday, May 25, a small but socially distanced group of Chesterville residents and supporters of the Meeting House were back to recognize Memorial Day. The bell was rung 21 times as a salute to honor the restoration and remember those who sacrificed for their country.

Work on the bell tower began in November 2019 with  a crane removing the 1,000 pound bell and the upper section of the bell tower. Long-time area contractor Ron Castonguay had the bell tower trucked to his shop in Leeds, where the restoration proceeded during the winter months.

The lower “bell deck” roof and the upper tier roof were replaced with standing seam metal roofing. New red oak timbers were milled, joined, and fastened to provide a new cradle structure for the bell. The felloes, which make up the wooden rim of the bell wheel, were replaced with native white ash.

Other work included repairs to the bell tower framing, boarding, and trim, and a thorough paint job. While the

The bell and tower from Chesterville Meeting House have been restored and returned to the top of the building following extensive renovations. Submitted photo

tower was down, a critical reinforcement was made to stabilize the queen post truss. The struss spans the building attic and supports the north side of the bell tower.

Resources for the $39,650 project included grants from Maine Community Foundation and Maine Steeples Fund, Davis Family Foundation, and Narragansett Number One Foundation. At the local level, a very generous response to a town-wide fundraising appeal in spring 2019 plus benefit performances by Franklin County Fiddlers and downeast humorist Tim Sample helped raise matching funds for the project.

Early work on the project included a careful preliminary assessment by Maine Preservation in June 2017 and an engineering assessment and design plan by Lincoln/Haney Engineering Associates, Inc. of Brunswick that fall.

The “steel alloy” Meeting House bell was cast in Hillsboro Ohio by C.S. Bell & Co. between 1882 and 1894. It is unknown whether the bell was purchased by the Chesterville parish at the time of its manufacture or acquired at a somewhat later date.

Chesterville Center Union Meeting House was constructed in 1851, the local house of worship for a century and a half. Today it is a non-profit community resource used for community gatherings and events including arts, music, education, and enrichment.

Meeting House organizers are grateful for the community support shown for the bell tower project.

For additional information about the Meeting House and to see more photos of the restoration and other recent projects, visit www.chestervillemeetinghouse.org.

The Chesterville Center Meeting House bell was rung 21 times on Monday, May 25 to celebrate its return after completion of a restoration project. At left Carolyn Drugge, president of the board, and others gathered to listen to the chimes, which also recognized those veterans who gave their lives in service to their country. Seen at right is Bob Cox speaking with Carroll Corbin. Submitted photo

Rob Rogers stands next to Chesterville Meeting House on Monday, May 25. He rang the building’s bell 21 times to celebrate newly completed renovations to the bell and its tower. Submitted photo

 


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