Mount Dora church seeks donations for restoration of 132-year-old bell tower

Keychains, parking spot sales to raise money at Mt. Dora Arts Festival

MOUNT DORA, Fla. – After 132 years of rotting and wear and tear, the bell tower at the Congregational Church of Mount Dora is about to be renovated. 

For the past five months, the Rev. Gary Marshall has been trying to raise $43,000 for the necessary repairs to the rotten spire. 

"We're within $3,000 of our goal," he said. "This is the oldest building in Mount Dora."

The church was able to secure a $20,000 grant through the Mount Dora Community Trust. 

Marshall hopes to raise the remaining money this weekend, when thousands make their way to Mount Dora for the annual Arts Festival. 

"It's an icon for the community," he said. "It has been here for 132 years. It needs to ring again." 

As part of that final push for fundraising, area businesses like the First National Bank of Mount Dora have donated the revenue from their parking spots during the weekend Arts Festival to the church. 

"We're going to raise money parking cars," Marshall said. 

It doesn't stop there; Randy Williams, the church verger, has been making keychains to support the bell tower restoration. They're being sold at different small businesses in Mount Dora. 

"We're going to get it back so we can ring the bell every Sunday like we used to," Williams said.  

Renovations are set to start in a little more than two weeks and are expected to last about a month. 

"Middle of April, we're going to have a bell-ringing party," Marshall said. "We're just going to ring that bell until it deafens out everybody."

​You can donate to the church's bell tower restoration project by clicking here.

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