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Thursday, August 3, 2017

The "Let The Bell Toll Once Again" Story

Photograph of the three miniature bells. Click to enlarge.
It was an ordinary day.  Standing inside the Moravian church's archives building in the small town of Lititz, Pennsyl- vania talking to Tom who is an extremely knowledgable historian for the Moravian congregation.  I asked if they happened to have any of the small bells that had been made after the nearby church burned in 1957.  
Clapper can be seen in this photograph.
Before long I was taking a photo of the three miniature bells that were made from the 600-pound bell that rang at one time in the belfry of the church that was severely damaged by the fire in 1957.  The fire was thought to have started from the spark of a painter's torch.  The 164-year-old-church was quickly engulfed with flames.  Shortly the roof and belfry collapsed into the sanctuary, but the walls remained standing due to their massive thickness.  When the bell fell through the roof of the burning building it hit the floor and cracked.  It was damaged so badly that it couldn't be repaired so the church's trustees agreed to melt the bell down and make smaller bells that could be sold to help finance the repairs of the church.  
Lititz Moravian Church in Lititz, Pennsylvania.
At first it was thought that they could get as many as 1,000 bells from the cracked bell, but it only yielded 250 miniature bells.  The bells look as if they were made from a combination of bronze and tin which is known as bell metal.  A walnut wood turned handle completes the bell.  
Firefighters battle the July 2, 1957 fire at the
Lititz Moravian Church.  The belfry can be seen
through the smoke, but shortly after collapsed.
Around the edge of the bell is a cast inscription which reads "Lititz Moravian Bell, 1787-1957.  The bells were originally sold for $5.00, but have become collector's items in the past and now go for as much as $500.00 at auctions around the local area as well as online.  Owning one of these bells means owning a piece of Moravian history.  I was grateful today that John was able to remove the three bells from their glass display case so I could get an unobstructed photograph of these historical pieces.  Just a beautiful piece of history for all who own one.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

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