The bell at the First Congregational Church has been silent for many years now. A newer electric bell installed about 15 years ago was much easier to ring than the 1,600-pound bell that had lived atop the church in the center of Rochester since 1892. But on November 20, the historic bell rang out its resounding D-note toll one final time from the top of the church steeple before it was lowered via crane to the ground, the final stage in the structural renovations of the church.
“There’s a lot of history in that bell,” as Bruce Rocha of Fisher & Rocha, Inc., contractor for the church renovations, put it. The bell was cast in 1892 by the Blake Bell Company of Boston owned by William Blake, an apprentice of Paul Revere III, grandson to our famous bell maker Paul Revere. Revere started the company Revere and Sons in 1801, which was passed down to his sons Joseph Warren Revere and Paul Revere Jr. The company evolved into the Blake Bell Co. in 1890.
It took a crane crew about an hour to extract the bell from its very tight living quarters towering above Rochester Center. Rocha said they were just lucky that the crane head was able to squeeze in to retrieve the bell.
The weight of the bell on the church tower’s structural support was simply too much to justify keeping in a bell that was no longer used.
The bell remains part of the history of the old church, and after it is stored for a period of time and refurbished, the bell will be returned to the grounds of the First Congregational Church of Rochester and put on display.
By Jean Perry