The bell tower that stands sentry over the east end of downtown Evergreen is in need of repair, and the Church of the Transfiguration is hoping to get a grant to do the restoration work.
The tower, originally dedicated on Easter Sunday 1911, was rededicated by the church’s congregation on April 24 to mark its 100th anniversary.
Church officials have submitted a $9,000 grant request to the Colorado State Historical Fund for the repairs. The request asks for $6,000 from the fund, with the church contributing $3,000 for the work. Church officials hope to hear by June whether they will receive the grant.
“The bell tower is one of the prime images that represents Church of the Transfiguration,” said the Rev. Mark J. Norris. “We still ring the bell on Sundays before the 10:15 a.m. service.”
The bell has a long and colorful history. It once was rung to alert people in times of fire and need, since it was so close to downtown Evergreen, according to Ken Schmidt, building and grounds administrator for the church.
The bell is from Ohio and weighs 1,100 pounds, Schmidt said. It takes a few pulls on the rope to get the bell to ring.
Since the church sits on a historical site, the responsibility falls on the congregation to keep the buildings and the bell tower repaired.
“There’s a lot of responsibility to maintain the historical integrity of the buildings,” Schmidt said.
The tower was restored and rededicated in 1979, and Norris performed the same re-dedication ceremony on Sunday as was done 32 years ago.
“Almighty God, we thank you for the devout and holy people who have been guided to these altars by the pealing of this majestic bell, their minds being filled with greater reverence for Thee and deeper and more godly affection one for another, by the sounds thereof,” Norris said, repeating the blessing printed in the 1979 dedication pamphlet.
Merrill Wilson, an Evergreen resident, historical architect and member of the church, helped with the grant request.
The bell tower is built of round logs that are fastened together in a shape where the legs of the tower splay out at the bottom, Merrill explained, so the tower is wider at the bottom than the top. The roof covers a bit more than half of the tower. The part that isn’t covered by the roof is much more exposed to the weather. The logs nearest the ground are showing a fair amount of rot.
“It’s nothing unusual,” Wilson said. “Moisture will settle into the natural cracks in a log, and moisture causes the deterioration and the rotting.”
The logs at the bottom of the structure with serious decay will be replaced, along with portions of some of the vertical logs.
If the church gets the grant, Wilson figures it will take about seven months to complete the work. Wilson said church officials hope the grant comes through, though there’s a lot of competition for the funds.
Wilson said working to restore the bell tower is a labor of love.
“It’s a cause that’s close to my heart, having lived in Evergreen for 25 years,” she said. “Before that, my grandparents built a summer cabin in Evergreen in the 1920s. I spent my summers in Evergreen. It’s an important place for me, and it’s the least I can do.”