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B'ville: Church bells chime again

A familiar sound can again be heard from the Baldwinsville First Presbyterian Church.

After several years without a Carillon Bell system, the church has finally purchased a new set of bells to be heard at 1 and 5 p.m. daily, thanks to donations made in memory of William Decker and Howard Ferguson, both former patrons of the church.

"A few years ago, the bells fell into disrepair and silence reigned," said The Reverend Stuart Hayes. "Now we are recapturing that tradition."

Carillon Bells are an electronic-acoustic system of bells with a vast range of tones carrying sound up to 20 miles in distance, depending on the settings. Songs can range from traditional Victorian hymns to titles such as Hungarian Dance No. 5.

"We're going to have fun with the bells. They don't just serve a pious purpose in the community," Hayes said.

The First Presbyterian Church dedicated its Carillon Bell system during the Sunday Aug. 16 morning mass. This is the third set of Carillons installed at the church since the originals were first put in during the late 1950s, early 1960s.

"A lot of people were eager to be here," Hayes said about the dedication. "We have restored something considered to be a valuable part of the community."

Not only do the bells ring of an earlier age, but the architecture of the building is also reminiscent of time past. Designed by Horatio N. White, a well-known Syracuse architect who also designed the First United Methodist and the First Baptist churches in Baldwinsville, and constructed in 1865, the First Presbyterian Church is now on the National Historic Registry. According to the Reverend, the church was built with funds from 18 members and three plaques displayed on the rear wall of the church serve as memorials to Civil War surgeons and their families who gave money to the congregation for maintenance and expansions of the church.

Typically identified through the Presbyterian Nursery School, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and home to the Baldwinsville Theatre Guild, Hayes said the church now can also be known for the chiming of its bells.

The new system of Carillon Bells sits atop a dresser in the church as the old system rests on the floor.

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