On November 24, 5 years of fundraising and restoration efforts culminated in the reinstallation of the belfry of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Juneau, Alaska circa 1893. This milestone was met just before 10:00 am when the sound of St. Nicholas bell carried on mornings Taku winds off the mountsides and out across the water of Gastineau Channel . This video shows the unnerving process of hoisting an irreplaceable historic bell into the sky.
History: The over-the-narthex belfry was built at St. Nicholas Church in 1905 when then ruling Bp. Innokentij of Alaska noted in his 1906 report “Alaskan Vicariate (in North America) in the year 1905” that: “The church in Juneau has been beautified with a new belfry built at voluntary donations of parishioners. The beautiful bell that was gift from the people of St. Paul Island, which they donated to St. Nicholas Church of Juneau in 1896 as an act of international Orthodox Christian friendship as St. Paul Island was inhabited mostly by Aleuts, while Juneau was inhabited mostly by ethnically different Tlingit people. The bell is decorated with three icons: Christ Pantocrator, Our Lady of Tikhvin, and St. Nicholas of Myra. It weighs 609 pounds and was likely cast in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In 2007, the belfry over the Narthex was removed due to severe deterioration when the roof was deemed unsound to support the bell’s weight. The belfry has been on blocks in the chapel yard since that time. In 2009, ROSSIA, with assistance from the St. Nicholas parish, hired a structural engineer to design a repair for the bell tower. And in 2010, ROSSIA was awarded a $50,000 grant from the State of Alaska to help with the preservation efforts. In December of 2011, ROSSIA selected local contractor, Alaska Commercial Contractors, Inc. (ACC, Inc.), to undertake the project.