Paul Davis of Grand Island restores historic bell tower and steeple
June 1, 2009
Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling of Grand Island has formally completed the restoration of a historic bell tower and church steeple for Zion Lutheran Church in Tobias, Neb.
Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling of Grand Island has formally completed the restoration of a historic bell tower and church steeple for Zion Lutheran Church, 2247 County Road 400 in Tobias, Neb.
“The church steeple and bell tower project holds great significance in Tobias and in southeast Nebraska. The town of Tobias is a small rural community with a population of only 151 residents,” Nick Suminski, owner of the Grand Island office, said. “Zion Lutheran Church was founded and organized in 1879 while the farming community was formally incorporated in 1884,” he said.
“The church constructed its initial building in its current rural setting in 1900 and in 1907, a 1,500 pound church bell was brought to the church by train and a team of horses and was pulled up into the bell tower by means of block and tackle,” said Suminski. “However, the building was struck by lightening and burned to the ground that same year. Another building and exact duplicate structure was built and dedicated in 1908,” he said.
According to Suminski, the bell tower and steeple blew off of the church in high winds in July 2008. “The base of the bell tower was approximately 40 feet of the ground and the bell tower and steeple were destroyed in the fall,” he said. “The bell tower is close to 13 feet tall and the steeple is 32 feet tall, with the cross another five feet above that. The bell survived the fall however the cradle and hammer for the bell was damaged,” Suminski said.
Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling of Grand Island was contacted on July 31, 2008 just after the disastrous incident. After numerous meetings with church contacts along with an engineer, architect and adjuster it was decided that an engineer was required to draw and design a new bell tower and steeple to fit with current building codes and standards and duplicated as close to the original as possible.
“The work authorization was signed on March 2 of this year and the remains of the bell tower and steeple were loaded onto a semi trailer and hauled to our work location in Grand Island. The bell was taken to a local welding and machine shop for remanufacturing of the cradle,” said Suminski. “The bell tower and steeple are being constructed in two separate pieces. They will be lifted onto the church with a crane using cables that have been built into the structure,” he said. “After the structure is set in place, the cables will be trimmed and reused to aid in securing the new structure to existing structure,” he said.
According to Suminski, the total damage to the front of the church from the July 2008 storm is still unknown at this time. “We expect the building contractor to remove siding from the church down to ground level to assure that all frame work is in good condition prior to setting the new bell tower and steeple. We hope to lift the bell tower and steeple onto the new structure in early June.” Paul Davis Restoration and Remodeling of Grand Island has been providing restoration and remodeling services to central Nebraska since 2002.