Over the weekend, workers started removing the church's east-facing (back) wall in order to stabilize the site, according to the Rev. Jacqui Lewis, senior minister at the Middle Collegiate Church. (Photo below via Steven)
The Fire Marshall has concluded their investigation, but we do not yet have the official written report. What we've been told is: It has been confirmed that the fire originated in the building to our north and the cause was electrical in nature.— Rev. Jacqui Lewis, PhD (@RevJacquiLewis) December 12, 2020
In some positive news, the steeple remains intact, which is where the New York Liberty Bell had hung in the belfry. The bell appears unharmed ...
We will have more to say to our community and to the press once we see the official report. In the meantime, we offer prayers of thanksgiving that there were no fatalities.— Rev. Jacqui Lewis, PhD (@RevJacquiLewis) December 12, 2020
As work continues to stabilize @middlechurch, our engineers have found that the church’s historic “New York Liberty Bell” was not damaged during last week’s devastating fire.— NYC Buildings (@NYC_Buildings) December 12, 2020
DOB engineers remain on site to monitor & assess the stability of the structure. pic.twitter.com/v5BPwuIUGl
Some history of the bell via the Times:
Our bell will ring again, and our love is still ringing. pic.twitter.com/BLofkL4HmT— Middle Church (@middlechurch) December 13, 2020
It is about 25 years older than the cracked Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, according to a 1959 New York Times article.Cast in Amsterdam in 1729, the bell was rung in 1735 to celebrate freedom of the press after John Peter Zenger, a German journalist, was acquitted of charges of seditious libel. He had published criticism of British tax collectors, according to the Times article.
It also was rung on the day that Representative John Lewis died in July and a week after the presidential election to celebrate "that love and justice" prevailed...
Around 9 a.m. Saturday, "something sparked up and the units that were on the scene did what they were supposed to do, which is just put some water on it," said a FDNY spokesperson who declined to give his name. The flare-up was so minor that the FDNY personnel on scene did not transmit a fire alarm, the spokesperson said.