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Mount St. Mary's University Repairs Chapel's Iconic Bell Tower

A July fire caused $750,000 in damages to the tower.
EMMITSBURG, Md. - Mount Saint Mary's University is making repairs to the Bell Tower at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. It's known as the physical and spiritual heart of the campus and was severely damaged after a fire tore through it on July 19, 2013. 

"We're rebuilding from the fire that we had, and they're building from the inside out so that everything can stay structurally safe and sound," said Bruce Norman, director of physical plant at the Mount.

Now crews are busy picking up the pieces of the fire that caused $750,000 in damage.

Ashes and wood still surround the inside of the tower, but it's getting cleaned up.

"They started with the internal plastering and everything, and that's all completed," Norman said. "Now they're working on the building structure, and that's about complete."

Then crews will move to the outside and begin replacing the roof and shingles.

"The Chapel of Immaculate Conception is the heart of campus. It's where we come to pray. It's where we come to worship, and at times of loss we come to mourn. At times of weddings and celebrations we come to celebrate," said Father Brian Nolan, director of campus ministry at the Mount.

Yellow tape surrounds the chapel, but those at the Mount are hard at work and hope to have the Bell Tower open within a month.

"Aesthetically, it's something that's kind of an icon in the university, so we want to make sure that it's put back the way that it was," Norman said. "We want to have it available for Christmas services so the bells can ring for the services."

Organ music in the chapel picks up the somber mood of the Bell Tower's damage, but a message from the 1922 class president survived inside the tower as a reminder of the campus spirit, as the community waits for the sound of the bells to ring again.

The chapel was built in 1910 and renovated three years ago. Those at the Mount say lightning started the July fire.
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