Dedication ceremonies set for Ottawa church's bell tower

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May 26—OTTAWA — Dedication ceremonies for a little stone church's new bell tower are slated 1 p.m. Saturday in the village of Ottawa, between St. Peter and Le Sueur on County Road 23.

The replica of the historic church's first bell tower holds the structure's original bell.

The Le Sueur County Historical Society and fellow nonprofit Ottawa Historians were aided by public donations during their project to reattach a tower to the historic Methodist church.

Restoration had to wait until Le Sueur County Historical Society was able to come up with funds for the repairs estimated to cost more than $170,000. Donations from the public and grants from the Schmidt Foundation and Unimin help the historical society pay for the project.

In 1859, native limestone quarried in the area was used for the building. Sometime in its history, a new bell tower with a pointed steeple had replaced the original square tower with opened sides, according to research by Hilda Parks, a retired Methodist minister who also is a local historian.

That steeple was taken down several years ago after it began to tilt, threatening the roof and structural stability.

Over the years, the church's stone work has been tuck-pointed, the roof was replaced with steel beams along the original wood rafters and cedar shakes, and the church's windows repaired using the original glass.

Bill Stangler, shortly after he became president of the historical society in 2019, said they plan to reopen the church for regular, private and public events once the renovation is complete.

The building will be open to the public Sunday afternoons throughout the summer. Volunteers from the Ottawa group will be on hand to assist church visitors, said Dean Pettis, vice president of the Le Sueur County Historical Society.

A community worship service is scheduled at the church the Sunday following Labor Day, Sept. 11.