Historic nearly 300-year-old bell will ring again after surviving NYC church fire

EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A nearly 300-year-old bell that survived a Manhattan church fire earlier this month will ring once again.

The six-alarm blaze gutted the Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village in the early morning hours of Saturday, December 5, starting in a vacant five-story building and spreading to the historic structure.

You can now see right through the building on Second Avenue, but at the top of the steeple, the New York Liberty Bell remains intact.

"I couldn't believe it," the Reverend Jacqui Lewis said. "If you look at my building, if you look at my fire...how is it possible that the bell is intact, and it is, it's amazing."

VIDEO: Firefighters work to put out raging fire that gutted historic East Village church
EMBED More News Videos

First responders work to put out a massive fire in the East Village Saturday morning.


Rev. Lewis said he was awed by the photos taken by a Department of Buildings inspector over the weekend. The bell was cast in Holland in 1731, and in the centuries since, it has rung in momentous events from the birth of the United States in 1776 to the attacks on 9/11.

"The bell represents the song that we keep singing," he said. "Of love, and when it rings again, we're all going to (scream with joy)."

The church was built in 1892, and it seems the facade and steeple will survive -- and the plan is to rebuild. For now, worship will continue virtually, as it has done during the pandemic. And on Sunday, other bells will chime.

Related: Community coming together after fire destroys historic East Village church

"Our neighborhood churches will ring other bells, because we can't ring ours," Rev. Lewis said. "We will do a socially distanced ring around the neighborhood.

It is a congregation able to lean on the larger community, and on each other.

----------
* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* More Manhattan news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Submit a News Tip
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.