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St. Paul’s bells, surrounded by scaffolding, will still ring on 9/11

Scaffolding on St. Paul's Chapel on Broadway. In the background, the
Scaffolding on St. Paul’s Chapel on Broadway, with the Freedom Tower in the background. Downtown Express photo by Yannic Rack

By YANNIC RACK | If you get out at Fulton St. station on this year’s 9/11 anniversary Thursday, your view of the Freedom Tower will be partly obstructed by all-round scaffolding on St. Paul’s Chapel.

Construction work on the church tower’s exterior began in August and the scaffolding will remain in place until the end of the year, according to a spokesperson for Trinity Church/St. Paul’s Chapel.

There will be no interference with service, however, and the traditional ringing of the Bell of Hope in remembrance of Sept. 11 will still take place at 8:46 a.m. on Thursday in the west churchyard. A mass for peace will be held at 12:30 p.m. inside.

“The scaffolding is allowing workers to complete three projects: replacing the lead-coated copper in the steeple, restoring the existing clock and mechanics, and repairing and restoring the existing masonry,” the spokesperson said.

The oldest surviving church building in Manhattan, St. Paul’s Chapel became a place of refuge for World Trade Center recovery workers in the direct aftermath of the Twin Tower attacks in 2001.

For months, the church, which was miraculously unharmed, provided meals and beds as well as counseling and prayer services, while visitors turned the fence around the church into an impromptu memorial.

The church was partly shielded from falling debris by a 70-year-old sycamore in its churchyard. A bronze sculpture of the felled tree’s roots and stump still serves as a memorial in a Trinity Church courtyard at the head of Wall St.

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