Monday, May 15, 2006

NEWS: 5,000-lb. Bell on a Rampage

This weekend brought a sense of urgency to residents of lower State Street (bridge side) that few had felt before when it was discovered that the 5,000 pound bell in St. Dominic's lofty bell tower had come crashing down forty feet into the tower itself. State Street traffic was rerouted and residents of some adjoining housing complexes were evacuated while officials scrambled to determine whether the damage was fatal to the bell tower's structure and thereby a threat to the safety of neighbors to the church.

Happily, unlike some of the rumors I heard over the weekend, the news appears to be good. While half the lanes of State Street remain blocked off, and assessments continue, the initial prognosis is encouraging. According to Sunday's Portland Press Herald, John O'Dea, the Maine Irish Heritage Center's excutive director, said reassuringly, "It's been here a long time and it will be here for a long time to come. The damage is confined to a real small area." The Heritage Center uses the adjoining building at 42 Gray Street for a housing program in the old St. Dominic's girl's school, and is in the process of renovating and restoring the 113-year old church for use as a genealogical library.

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