In connection with the renovations contemplated and soon to the undertaken by Larison’s Corner, Reverend Mark decided to venture up into the belfry with a flashlight and his trusty camera. No telling how many years it’s been since anyone ventured up there. Amazing the strength of the beams he saw. Here is what he found:
Up and Down
It’s dark, cold, the air smells of dust and age and I’m having an adventure in my own Church. Deciding to make my way to the bell of the Larison’s Corner Church, in a few short steps I find myself in another world.
Climbing up the stairs leading to the belfry, I’m far from the painted and tidy walls of the Narthex and Sanctuary. Vast beams rise into the darkness and the floor is littered with aged insulation and the dust of over a hundred years. The only available light comes from the circular stained-glass window at the front of the Church and my flashlight. As my eyes adjust to the darkness, a vast space opens to my left, the roof over the Sanctuary.
The flashlight shows upright beams, little more than unfinished trees harvested for the purpose. There is a noticeable absence of nails or bolts, wooden pegs hold everything together. All the wood and beams, veterans of over a hundred summers and winters, are dark and solid. There isn’t a failing piece visible to the eye. Across the way, a short flight of steps leads to a platform, one that ends at a long ladder reaching up into the darkness. At the top, the flashlight shows the hatch leading to the bell. I stick the flashlight in my pocket and my camera goes under my jacket. I ascend.
The hatch is a problem. Lifting up a few inches before stopping, it can shift neither left, right nor forward. A little experimentation shows that if I lift it and slide it backwards, I can get a hole to crawl through. Sort of. The resulting opening is not designed for larger folks, particularly ones in heavy jackets with a camera and flashlight. Reaching over the beams on the floor, I set the light and camera down and try the hole. Ducking under the edge of the bell, I make it up.
The space is cramped and it is not easy to move around. I discover the beams limiting the hatch are actually the carriage for the bell. The bell itself is about four feet in height, that mottled green that bronze gets with age. The foundry mark states 1869. Given its’ age it’s in good shape. My eye is drawn to a large, rusting war hammer-looking thing hanging from a supporting beam. It takes me a moment to realize it’s a spare clapper. I get some photos of the space, but I am unable to get the entire bell. I have a wide-angle lens that would do the trick, but it’s in the camera bag a hundred or so feet below me.
Squinting through the steeple louvers, I wonder how many people think about the building that they worship in?
As to the photos I took, here they are:
Thanks for sweating through my cheap travelogue. If I get back to the belfry, I’ll take the right lenses and get the whole bell.