$24,422 Grant for King Cove Bell Tower Construction
King Cove, Alaska August 27, 2015: Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska’s foremost charitable family
foundation, has awarded a grant of $24,422 in support of the construction of the Elders’ Bell Tower to
St. Herman Church in King Cove, a remote fishing community of about 950 year-round residents located
near the southern tip of the Alaska Peninsula.
The Elders’ Bell Tower will be a freestanding tower approximately 30 feet high designed to
house King Cove’s seven historic bronze church bells, cast in San Francisco in the 1880s. Originally the
bells were housed in Holy Resurrection Church in Belkofski, Alaska—a once-thriving Aleut village having
a richly adorned Orthodox church. Gradually the residents of Belkofski moved to nearby villages which
offered them new economic opportunities. The church’s rich inventory—including a beautiful
iconostasis containing numerous icons from Russia—was transferred to King Cove, twelve miles away by
boat, where a new Orthodox church was built in the 1980s.
Due to the often punishing weather of the lower Alaska Peninsula, where wind gusts of 70 mph
and more are not uncommon, it is especially vital for the bell tower’s design to be precisely engineered.
The largest bell has a diameter of 35.5 inches and weighs an estimated 850 pounds. A steel frame and
deep, secure foundation are two elements of the future tower now being considered by planners.
The project relies on the participation of volunteers to provide the labor. A team of four men
from the Sacramento area of California is planning to return to King Cove to oversee the tower
construction in 2016. These generous volunteers are no strangers to King Cove—they came in the
summer of 2012 and stabilized the church which was in great need of emergency repairs. The volunteers
are of Russian heritage and find inspiration in travelling to Alaska to restore a church with history dating
back to the Russian period in Alaska’s history.
Through the building of the bell tower, the local church hopes to promote the importance of
historic and cultural preservation in a part of rural Alaska in which many visible signs of Russian
influence have disappeared. For many, especially the elders of the community who grew up in Belkofski,
the Orthodox Church is a tangible connection to both their cultural and religious heritage. For the
younger generations, the church offers a glimpse into the rich history of both their region and faith. By
dedicating the bell tower to the community’s elders, the church seeks to honor and thank them.
“The bell tower is a way of bringing people together and celebrating our community’s heritage,”
says Father Andrei Tepper, rector of St. Herman Church. “We are a people of faith and restoring the
bells shows that we are serious about preserving the historical items that have been passed on to us.
We want to be good stewards and this is an important step towards protecting and preserving our
heritage, our inheritance, our faith.”
“We are so grateful for all the generous donations we have received from individuals, parishes,
and organizations throughout Alaska and the Lower 48 in support of our restoration.”
Rasmuson Foundation’s financial contribution challenges the community to step up and raise a
matching amount before the end of the grant period towards the church’s final fundraising goal. The
parish expects that the bell tower construction will be the first phase of an overall rehabilitation project
for the King Cove church. Further funds are needed to continue the reconstruction over the coming
years. Donations are tax-deductible and may be sent to: St. Herman Church, P.O. Box 169, King Cove, AK