The bell tolls for thee

Dear reader, we’re taking a break from the memoir-in-progress to assess the accomplishments of the past year. My husband and I closed on the 126-year-old Methodist church just shy of a year ago, and the changes have been immense. For the next couple days, I’m telling the story in before-and-after photos. Whenever possible I’ll try to use the same perspective in the “after” shot as I did long ago in the “before.” We’ve walked through most of the church, but we’re almost done. Today, we look at the belfry.

door to belfry before
The belfry has an interior entrance on the second floor. It’s that open door near the center of the picture, which was taken when we first toured the church.
belfry door after demo
Here’s that space, at a slightly different angle, after demolition.
belfry door with floor done
This is the guest bedroom, with the belfry door, after we finished refinishing the floors and painting. You can see we switched out the door to the belfry so it had windows (this door came from elsewhere in the church).
belfry door after
And here’s how this wall of the second floor looks today.
belfry interior with books
Once you open the door to the belfry, it doesn’t look a whole lot different than it did when we bought the church (thus, no before picture). It’s a lot cleaner, but we haven’t installed trim or painted; I’m envisioning a bank of book shelves on the left and a window seat on the right. The bell rope is new (it’s hanging there to the left of the doorway) and the window is new.
belfry window before
Here’s how the window looked in the beginning. It was covered on the outside with siding. Tyler guessed that hole there was a bullet hole (but wouldn’t a bullet shatter the pane?). I think I can see a face in the upper right pane, can you? (It’s not me — my reflection is in the lower right, beneath the bullet hole.)
Here’s the new window, uncovered by siding, with a view of the neighbor across the street.
belfry exterior before
The exterior of the belfry when we bought the church hid a lot of sins. The roof below the bell was rotted, and two of the eight piers holding up the bell were rotted so it couldn’t be rung. A number of squirrel skeletons littered the roof area (but no bats!)


The belfry looks a lot different from a year ago. The siding has been removed (though not yet replaced), and the decorative detail on the upper part revealed. The window makes a big difference. And the bell can be rung safely again after we shored up the interior structure (neighbors will tell you I ring it every time I have visitors).

Today’s headline is a partial quote from 17th century Christian writer John Donne. Here’s the entire passage: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Tomorrow: The balcony (just wait until you see that before photo!) See it here.

4 thoughts on “The bell tolls for thee

  1. I have loved following the posts of your construction. This home is gorgeous! Along with all of the before and after pictures, I would love to see a before and after floor plan to better conceptualize (at least for me) the layout of the church before and the location of the various rooms now.


  2. Hi Monica and Tyler! I again have to thank you for the joy your blog and restoration story bring to every day!! Monica, you are such a fun & gifted author and you both make such an amazing team in creating a home of awe out of a very sad structure meant to revere God! I hope you will be able to relish the holidays in your wonderful new home with that great kitchen and space! PS I like Penny’s idea about the floor plan before and after. Amazing you never had an architect!! Do you plan to become the Chip and Joanna of Wisconsin and help others restore their homes? Happy Happy Thanksgiving!!!


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