For nearly a century, a church bell tower in downtown Rock Hill has stood silent – never actually holding a bell. That changed this week when a 1,000-pound brass bell was hoisted into the tower of The Episcopal Church of Our Saviour.
A small crowd of church members attended the bell-raising on the sidewalk at the intersection of Caldwell and White streets.
Colin Okey, 2, the son and grandson of members, was the first to strike the bell with a metal striker while it sat on the sidewalk before it was raised.
After Colin, several 3- and 4-year-olds from the church's day school class took turns striking the bell with wooden spoons.
Purchase and installation of the bell is part of the 700-member church's million-dollar restoration project, which began in January.
The church, built in 1872, originally had a smaller, wood-framed tower that, according to historic photographs, contained a small bell, said Marsha Millar, head of the restoration committee.
The existing brick tower, built in the early 1900s, did not contain a bell, Millar said.
“There is no evidence in the tower itself that a bell was hung there,” said church member Hugh Rock, 67. “There was no hardware or brackets, no support. We had to build support into the tower.”
The bell was cast in Annecy – a town in the French Alps just south of Geneva. It arrived at the church about two weeks ago. “It is an A-3 bell, which means it has a mellow, deep tone,” Millar said.
The bell will be rung by an electronic striker controlled from within the church. The tower would not support a swinging bell, Millar said.
Planning for the restoration began more than two years ago, Millar said. It focused on essential renovations such as new heating, wiring, floors and walls, Rock said. “The bell was an extra, but we were able to get them all,” Rock said. “I am really pleased.”