Bethlehem Evangelical project on schedule
By John Faucher
The familiar sound of a more than century-old church bell in Hortonville has moved to the rolling landscape of the village’s east side.
The bell belongs to Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church, which has been a part of the Hortonville community for over 140 years.
The congregation broke ground earlier this year for a new $2.7 million dollar building located on a 27-acre site at 725 E. Grandview Road. Construction of the new building began June 11, and is on track for completion by March 1.
On Monday Oct. 30, winds gusted up to 20 miles per hour at the construction site as crews from James J. Calmes & Son’s Construction prepared to set the church’s new bell tower roof over the old church bell.
The 10,000-pound tower roof top was built to fit the rest of the building’s classical architectural design.
Members of the congregation’s building committee have been anticipating the move for the past several weeks.
A crew from R&B Roofing carefully removed the old church bell from the congregation’s existing 100-foot church steeple on North Nash Street and transported the 900-pound bell to the church’s new site.
The old bell was set into its new home on Sunday, Oct. 29.
On Monday, Pastor Joel Jenswold, a handful of congregation members and the building committee eagerly watched as the crane operator slowly lowered the rooftop over the bell tower.
Smiles spread through the audience as crews secured the bell tower top.
At 11:31 a.m. Darwin Selle, chairman of the building committee, rang the bell loudly from up in the tower.
He came out smiling with his hands over his ears. “It’s loud,” he said.
Randy Calmes, president and owner of James J. Calmes Construction, explained there will be louvers cut into the tower.
“You won’t be able to see it but you’ll be able to hear it,” he said of the century-old bell.
“There’s a lot of sentimental value to a lot of the things we’re bringing over. We’re bringing over the old pipe organ which they’re rebuilding,” Calmes said.
They also will bring over some of the stained glass and incorporating it into the new building.
Lon Tesch, a member of the building committee has been on site nearly every day since the project began in early June.
“Everything’s been going well and people are definitely liking what they’re seeing,” said Tesch.
“It’s a team effort, that the whole key. You don’t get a project like this done without that.”