Historic Sevier County church restores original bell

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – A long-awaited project at an historic Sevier County church is nearing the end. Rocky Springs Presbyterian Church was built in 1890, but has been missing its bell for several decades.

Church members have been working to restore that bell tower and they celebrated a big step Wednesday.

“History. That’s one thing, history. And I think another thing it does for us, it keeps us sort of in tune with what our fore parents did,” said Pastor Eugene Thomas.

This church was recently added to the National Historic Register, but for nearly half a century the original bell sat in a closet. It was donated to the church in memory of a former member’s wife. Church members are not sure why it was taken down.

“It’s something we’ve been talking about for quite a few years, and we finally, now it’s come to what we want it to be,” said Thomas.

Work began a few weeks ago reconstructing the bell tower and creating a way to get up into it.

The task, which comes with the goal of keeping the history of the place intact, has not been easy. Finding many of the parts was not an option. They had to make them from scratch.

“We appreciate the contractors. They have done such a wonderful job and we really appreciate them,” said church member Benton Trundle.

That bell got some fresh air Wednesday, taking a ride up to its bell tower where they hope it will stay for the next hundred years.

“Hopefully we’ll ring the bell some Sunday mornings and let the people know we’re here. I think that it’s extremely important. Some people say that’s the old fashioned way, but there’s nothing wrong with it. We’re happy!” said Thomas.

“I hope that people will know that we are here and we’re still active,” said Trundle.

Once in place, the sound of the bell tolling was a sign all their hard work has paid off.

“For whom the bells toll, they toll for us!” said Thomas.

All that is left to do is putting the metal roof back on the bell tower. Church members say they hope that will happen next week.

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