Eleven historic bells chime daily on top of the high bell tower at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Salem. One of them dates back to 1740, where its tolled for the death of every president preceding George H.W. Bush.
In January 2018, a series of three snowstorms destroyed the mechanism that rings each of the bells, says the Rev. Nathan Ives, priest in charge at the church.
During that harsh winter, the reverend said an ice dam destroyed the church’s roof, closing it for all worship until April of this year. The entire roof and ceiling were replaced with all new insulation, he says, while the organ, chandeliers and furniture had to be removed and later reinstalled. The bells, which were previously manually rung, are now fully restored and operated electronically.
Fortunately, the original pews, dating back to 1733, were left unscathed. But Rev. Ives added how many of the historic pieces, like the wooden 10 Commandments Triptych from 1738, were removed and placed safely in storage. The damage, totaling to $750,000, was covered by insurance.