A friend just send this newspaper report. Sadly, as it seems, the Church of Glen Lyon/PA, where the movie was filmed (the place is called "Coal Town" in the film), will be torn down next month. (Is there any reason to tore down a church?
An essay on the history of Glen Lyon can be found here:
Glen Lyon church will fall to wrecking ball in March
By Debby Higgins , Citizens' Voice Staff Writer 02/21/2004
When the wrecking ball crashes into St. Michael the Archangel Church, Glen Lyon, a small part of its history will remain to tell its story.
The brick church that sits on a hill in Glen Lyon will fall to the wrecking ball in March.
Despite its history and integral role in the religious community, a lack of funding, shortage of priests and a declining number of parishioners led to the church's closing and pending demolition. A parish community committee made the decision.
"These are helpful, loving people. It was not easy for them to let their church be razed," said the Rev. Jacek Bailkowski, parish priest.
The church was made famous by the 1948 movie, "The Miracles of the Bells." The film, which starred Frank Sinatra, Lee J. Cobb and Fred McMurray, was based on the book of the same title by Russell Janney.
The bells made famous in the movie will not fall with the debris but will be salvaged.
"We will remove the bells prior to demolition. There are three bells in the towers, one small and two larger ones. We have two offers to purchase them," the Rev. Bailkowski said.
The Rev. Bailkowski, who is a native of Poland, said he sees the church as much more than a brick and mortar building but is an embodiment of the community's religious spirit.
"For the people who lived here and built the church, it was a strong symbol of their faith. But, all things change. At one time, this was a community of 10,000. Now there 2,000," he said.
St. Michael's organ, stained glass windows, pews, statuary and famous statue of its patron saint will survive the demolition.
"All religious objects will be used in the religious community somewhere in the world. The parish community insisted upon it. The pews are in a church in Vancouver and Portugal. The statues have all been purchased by a Franciscan order, for example," he said.
One stained glass window in particular has played an important part in local history, according to the Rev. Bailkowski.
The window bears the names of 32 men who served in World War I. The Rev. Bailkowski said their story is unique.
"The men returned home safely from fighting in World War I. In thanksgiving, they had the window made. It bears all 32 of their names. Some of their family members still reside in the town," he said.
The window was salvaged and sold. The Rev. Bailkowski said he will honor the men by sharing their names that are written in Polish with the Corpus Christi parish community.
Jesse Teitelbaum, executive director of the Luzerne County Historical Society, said he was pleased to learn the significant historical components of the church will continue to serve in a religious capacity somewhere in the world.
If the Rev. Bailkowski can successfully negotiate with the company that will be awarded the contract for demolition, the church's keystone and cornerstone will be saved and presented to the Luzerne County Historical Society.
"It's very saddening and disappointing the church will be demolished, but at least a few pieces will continue. I commend the people of the parish for trying their best for so long to find a use for the church. Sadly, we know it's virtually impossible to save all the old buildings," he said.
Proceeds from all the items that were salvaged and sold will be dedicated to demolition costs.
Perhaps the most recognizable part of the church is the white statue of patron, St. Michael the Archangel that will not be sold.
"The committee agreed the statue would remain here. It will be temporarily moved for demolition but will be returned and restored," the Rev. Bailkowski said.
Items are still being removed and sold. A contract for demolition has not yet been signed, but the Rev. Bailkowski said once it begins, demolition is quickly completed.
"We expect the church to be gone by April. The life force of a church is the people. That will remain," he said.