90-year-old bells will toll again

The City of Bayonne saved the bells from St. Joseph's Syriac Catholic Cathedral

St. Joseph's mid- demolition. Photo by Victor M. Rodriguez.
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St. Joseph's mid- demolition. Photo by Victor M. Rodriguez.

As St. Joseph’s Syriac Catholic Church was being demolished, the city stepped in to save its historic church bells. The bells, more than 90 years old, will now find a new home.

The demolition of St. Joseph’s Syriac Catholic Cathedral on 25th and Avenue E took place on Dec. 27, 2019. The property is being redeveloped into twin six-story residential buildings with 162 units.

While the façade of the building could have been preserved through designation by the Bayonne Historical Preservation Committee, the Archdiocese of Newark declined to do so. This paved way for developers to level the area and start from scratch.

The city began planning to save the bells following outcry over the potential destruction of the bells. One of the bells is a former fire bell, and the other was made for the church by the local Slovak community.

The city’s Public Works Director secured the bells prior to demolition. The city also preserved the statue of St. Joseph that was outside the church.

A new home

The bells will find new life with the renovation of the East 25th Street pedestrian bridge. The bridge, which spans the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail at East 25th St., is finally getting a facelift, and the bells will be incorporated into the structure.

At its December meeting, the city council awarded the contract for bridge renovations to Grade Constructions of Paterson for $2,643.569.71.

According to City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, developers building nearby will help fund the project. PRC Group, developer of St. Joseph’s, will pay $600,000 toward the replacement bridge.

The replacement will add stairs, elevators, wheelchair ramps, and new curbs on both sides of the bridge.

The city council’s agenda for its upcoming meeting shows a resolution that, if adopted, would authorize a request for proposals for the restoration of the bells, and the construction and installation of a bell tower. The city council will most likely approve the resolution at its meeting on Jan. 20.

The city council meets virtually via TetherView. To attend, go to bayonnenj.org and click on the link on the calendar page.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.