For Whom The Bell Tolls

The bells from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church will soon be ringing again in downtown Jamestown.

Renovations have begun to repair the bells and clock at the church, located at 404 N. Main St. Paul Johnson and Linda Dawson, St. Luke’s wardens, said on Sept. 1, 2013, the northeast turret of the church’s bell tower was struck by lightning. This resulted in damage to the turret, the fire alarm system, the clock, the bells and mechanisms for both.

”The clock has been stuck at 5:50 – the time of the lightning strike,” Johnson said.

Johnson said church officials received money from their insurance company to cover most of the repairs to the masonry of the northeast turret, the bells and for the new alarm system. The clock faces, mechanism and lighting were outdated and those repairs are considered upgrades and are not covered.

”We expect our portion of the cost to be between $25,000 and $40,000,” said Dawson.

Dawson said church officials have received financial support from the community for the repairs. They received a $2,000 grant from the Karl Peterson Foundation and $4,000 from the Jessie Smith Darrah Fund.

”Our community has been blessed with benefactors that established trusts to care for the community long after their deaths,” Johnson said.

Church officials are holding a fundraiser to get the rest of the funds needed to fix the historic structure, said Andrew Hill, who is on the vestry at St. Luke’s.

”We are asking for the community’s help and are seeking donations in any amount from individuals, families and businesses that depend on or miss the bells and the clocks of St. Luke’s,” Hill said.

As a result of the lightning-strike, both St. Luke’s parish and downtown Jamestown have been without the tower clock, bells and music for the past nine months.

”Numerous people commented on the cessation of the clock and the silencing of the bells and music,” Dawson said.

Johnson said the construction work being done will affect downtown Jamestown traffic as two large cranes will be used in the project and will be parked along Main Street, partially obstructing the right side of the northbound lane between Fourth and Fifth streets.

”We expect this phase to be only four or five days,” Dawson said.

R.E. Kelley Inc. of Bowmansville will be repairing the stone masonry, with the duration of the entire project estimated to take several weeks.