Thursday, June 17, 2021

At fire-damaged Middle Collegiate Church, it's moving day for the historic New York Liberty Bell

On Dec. 5, a fire destroyed the southeast corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street, including the neighboring Middle Collegiate Church.

As previously reported, the fire spared the steeple and its historic contents — the New York Liberty Bell, which dates to the early 1700s. 

And yesterday morning, workers removed the bell from the belfry to transport it to the New York Historical Society, where it will be part of an exhibit on the resiliency of NYC for the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

EVG contributor Stacie Joy was there to capture the delicate operation to move the bell to its temporary new home on Central Park West...
Before the bell left Second Avenue, the Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis from Middle Collegiate Church rang it 19 times in honor of Juneteenth ... and for a celebration of liberty...
Those involved also wanted to give a shout-out to the crews from the DOB, Triton Construction and Gramercy for their professionalism in ensuring a safe transfer of the bell ...
And some history of the bell via the Times:
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... 
The bell will be housed in the New York Historical Society lobby until the church is rebuilt. Find out how you can help support the rebuild at this link.
The FDNY previously said that faulty wiring at 48 E. Seventh St. was to blame for the six-alarm fire. An FDNY spokesperson told 1010 WINS that the fire has been deemed "non-suspicious." 


  1. $80 million needed for the rebuilding of this wonderful church. Perhaps, like so many struggling museums these days who are putting up their masterpieces at auction in order to stay open and maintain their institutions, this bell should be auctioned off as well. $80 million is a lot of money to raise from a working class neighborhood that struggles with crime, housing and social issues.
    Perhaps the NYHS should charge an extra fee to view it, the money would go to the church for its rebuilding efforts.

  2. great work as usual staci!

  3. Faith Popcorn's insurance policy should have to pay to have the church rebuilt. Still don't understand why she was not held accountable for leaving that building empty to the point where it had not one, but two fires, one of them devastating.

  4. Amazing photos, Stacie! What an emotional event.

  5. Just gorgeous photos!

  6. Do we know yet if the facade will be saved? I hope so.

  7. Is there any update as to how much money has been raised, or is available to date, for rebuilding the church? As others have noted, $80 million is a LOT of money, esp. for a neighborhood like ours.

    The church's donation page is well-done, but there is no indication of how much has been donated, nor how much the church may have through insurance coverage (and yes, Popcorn's insurance should be paying, and for all I know, *might* end up paying through insurance subrogation), etc.

  8. Very cool - thanks again Ms. Joy for being on the scene - must of been great to see the bell up close!

  9. Carol from East 5th StreetJune 17, 2021 at 10:28 PM

    Heartwarming story. Wonderful photos. I was in all day working so missed this. Thanks so much!

  10. I remember the first time I heard this bell ring....Sunday morning, 11:00 am...the day after I moved into the neighborhood over 40 years ago...and it woke me up. I thought...what the? It became a friendly sound over the years and I look forward to the day that it rings again!


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