History: the return of a bell to the house

By Chris Ryon

Many years ago, I convinced my neighbor Helen Giles to donate a bell that her late husband had bought from my other neighbor, Carl Erikson. Helen’s husband, Bruce, owned the building at the corner of Old Coach Road and 25A in East Setauket and dreamed of restoring the school’s historic building’s cupola and bell.

Carl Erikson had a passion for church bells and the church he cared for, the Russian Orthodox Church in Setauket. Carl put the bell in the back of his shop at the church. Known as “Father John” by his parishioners, he sadly passed away more than two years ago. He was my neighbor and friend for 20 years.

Carl studied and analyzed the bells and even planned to cast his own. He bought scrap metal and had some ideas on how to melt and mold his own. He was also a professor of physics and loved numbers and engineering.

I was buying a large bandsaw from Carl’s estate when I saw the bell on a pile of wood. I knew that the current owner of the building planned to rebuild the bell tower. After discussing it with the executor, it was returned.

Steve Albanese now owns the old school building. I called his busy accounting office and told his secretary I had the bell. Steve called later and couldn’t believe the bell was going to him. He was working on plans to rebuild the dome this spring and was looking for a bell. The bell now sits proudly in his office waiting room, waiting to ring again.

Chris Ryon is the Port Jefferson Village Historian.