The skyline of New Harbor has returned to normalcy, with a few changes, after the completion of the New Harbor United Methodist Church’s bell tower after seven years.
According to Pastor Kelly Harvell, who has been with the church nearly a decade, the bell tower has been renovated in a traditional Methodist style instead of its previous federal form.
The Methodist style is boxier and enclosed, while the federal-style architecture, popular in the early 1900s when the church was built, left the bell open to the elements on all sides, which caused leaking and water damage for decades, according to Harvell.
The bell and its tower have been down since 2016 due to safety concerns posed by the damage.
“It’s no wonder there was water damage,” Harvell said.
In the 1980s, a green child-sized swimming pool was placed above the organ speakers to catch tower leaks, according to Harvell, and the process to empty it was an arduous one.
Harvell said the church’s tower is an important part of New Harbor for community members and that the renovations were made with longevity in mind.
“It’s about having this church here for years to come,” Harvell said.
During renovation, congregants and church administration voted to leave the bell out from the bell tower in a narrow decision, but according to Harvell, it was a matter of logistics.
“Supporting a 900-pound bell is difficult,” Harvell said.
The bell now sits in an enclosure on the lawn in front of the church, which Harvell said is locked, so it can’t be rung, but will be unlocked and sounded on special occasions.
In addition to the bell tower renovations, Harvell said the siding on the building was redone, the church’s side deck, the north side roof, trim, and 15 windows were either replaced or modified.
Local builders Ron Terenzi and Neils Betsy, from Terenzi Construction and Green Barn Carpentry, led the way on renovation and construction. Margo Hope, chair of the church’s administrative council, said the builders provided remarkable insight and imagination during the process.
The only remaining piece needing to be built, according to Harvell, is the railing leading up to the church, which she anticipates to be completed when the builders can get to it.
The renovations come after a successful capital campaign where community members and church-goers made donations over the last two years, nearly meeting the fundraising goal of $300,000.
“We only sent out one letter asking for donations,” Harvell said.
The church also held a concert series over the last two summers to fundraise for the renovations.
Harvell said local bands such as The Rusty Hinges, Castlebay, and The Round Pond Players performed and the events were well attended.
“Quite a number of groups that are local actually donated their concerts,” Harvell said. “I don’t think a lot of people recognize that the people who played here played for us out of the goodness of their hearts.”
Hope commended the Bristol peninsula in the number of talented artists.
“We had such a variety of talent, there were some really fantastic players,” Hope said. “It was wonderful to work with them.”
Harvell said the church is exploring continuing the concert series to help raise funds for other organizations in the area.
“This is an excellent community to work with,” Harvell said.
For more information, call Harvell at 677-3055, follow New Harbor UMC Maine on Facebook, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.