Following three years of planning and fundraising, restoration of the Chesterville Center Union Meeting House bell tower is well under way.

On Nov. 22, contractor Ron Castonguay, of Leeds, working with riggers from Cote Crane and Rigging in Auburn, removed the upper section of the tower and bell. The belfry structure, the bell undercarriage, and the bell “wheel” that operates the bell will be restored at the contractor’s shop and returned to the building when completed later this year.

Meanwhile, a temporary cap has been placed over the open base of the tower and work will proceed on structural elements of the queen post truss which spans the building attic and supports the north side of the tower, according to a news release from Robert G. Rogers, of Farmington Falls.

Contractor Ron Castonguay, of Leeds, and a crew from Cote Crane and Rigging remove the upper section of the Chesterville Center Union Meeting House bell tower and bell on Nov. 22. Photo courtesy of Robert G. Rogers

The $39,650 bell tower project has been made possible by grants from three private foundations along with local fundraising efforts. Funding sources have included the Maine Steeples Fund managed by the Maine Community Foundation, the Davis Family Foundation, and a successful local fundraising appeal last spring.

Performances by the Franklin County Fiddlers in November 2018 and Tim Sample in May also helped raise money for the project. Because of these organizations and individuals, and the audiences that have come to events at the meeting house, a piece of history will be preserved for another century or more, and the tower bell will once again be heard ringing out over Chesterville.

The Chesterville Center Union Meeting House, located at 3 Borough Road in Chesterville, is a nonprofit community resource dedicated to providing a venue for community events and to the preservation of the building for future generations.

The building was constructed in 1851 and local efforts in recent years have seen several new projects completed including the addition of an ADA compliant ramp, landing, and privy. Other recent efforts have added a handicapped parking area, two air-source heat pumps, energy saving window inserts, and a crawl space vapor barrier for ground moisture control.  Most recently, two sides of the building were painted.

For more information about the meeting house and upcoming events, visit chestervillemeetinghouse.org.

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