Ring in the old, ring in the new
MUNCY – A new church steeple to house the ringing church bell that was originally placed in 1834 at the Muncy Presbyterian Church is now in place and ready to keep the bell ringing for many more years to come.
Trustee Tom DeWald said the old steeple tower was formerly made from wooded louvres that have now deteriorated. A new one to replicate the old one was rebuilt from a more modern material that looks just like wood, but is more durable. It is made from Versatex, a special man made material of cellular PVC trim board. According to DeWald it is moisture proof and three eights inches thick. “This will now be a permanent structure,” he said and was quite pleased that it still looked just like the original steeple with a real cedar look holding woodworking qualities. “It all fit so well together.”
DeWald said he watched the entire process unfold which started in early May. “It took them ten days to do the work,” he said noting that a company from Watsontown was hired to do the job. “It took six months of bids to review the project and determine what was needed before deciding on Dolittle Construction, an Amish company known for their attention to detail and strong work ethics. “Starting at 6 a.m., they scraped and painted quite a bit before adding the special material,” said DeWald.
The inside stair steps leading to the steeple are narrow inside, and the hired contractors made suggestions to improve the bell tower along the way such as finishing it with a liquid moisture proof repellant.
The cast iron bell is located inside the top part of the dome and mounted with heavy timbers originally assembled with wooden pins. “The material inside is very structurally good, but the outside was going,” DeWald explained.
As a trustee member since 1952, DeWald said he has enjoyed the opportunity to work with the other trustees who maintain the building and authorize payment such as the purchase of a new gas furnace three years ago. “It was a cost reduction of 50 percent from oil,” he replied.
This was such a special project according to Pastor Robert Dunkelberger who was well pleased with the workmanship. “This is one of few bell towers like this still standing here.”
Every Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. the bell is manually rung and its pleasant chimes are a welcoming sound to all who hear them. In the summer it rings at 9:30. “It rings seven times for each day,” said DeWald who is usually the one that likes to ring the bell. “It sounds different nowbetter,” he added, “more clear sounding.” A local resident remarked that he never really noticed the bell ringing before so much on Sundays, and now notices a big difference. All agree that the sound quality is much better now.