On Monday the 1,590-pound church bell that has rung the hour for Edgartonians for five generations was temporarily relieved of duty. The bronze bell, cast in 1843 and installed in the Edgartown Whaling Church in 1889, was gingerly removed from atop the clock tower by crane, for the first time, on the coldest day this winter.

The bell itself is in good working order, but nearly all the mechanisms around it, and the cast iron and timber which held it in place, had so badly deteriorated, it posed a public safety threat. There was a concern that either the bell or the 500-pound counterweight attached to it might fall down through the building.

Across New England, when old churches and town halls have this problem, usually the bell is retired as the least expensive solution. That was how the Edgartown Town Hall bell was retired. Today it resides in front of the Edgartown Fire Station on a brick foundation and is only for exhibit.

But this is a different story, which will have a musical ending. The Whaling Church bell will ring again, just in time for the annual Edgartown School eighth grade graduation ceremony to be held in the church in June.

The church building is owned by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust.

Chris Scott, executive director of the preservation trust, said the original plan was to make the bell safe and not remove it. In the original historic restoration project, there was no plan to remove the bell.

However, as workmen looked beyond the structural parts that held the bell, they soon discovered a lot more hidden, significant work was necessary. Timbers beneath the floor that held the bell suffered from rot. There was a leak, where rain seeped in and dripped into the small room where the clock does its work.

“What really got our attention was a 500-pound, iron counterweight that resided on top of the bell. It was held onto the bell by a metal strap. That metal strap had rusted away,” Mr. Scott said. “That 500-pound lead could have fallen down through the church.

“When we started looking, the clapper that was inside the bell was hanging by a very thin piece of iron,” Mr. Scott said.

“After we removed the main supports for the bell, we found underneath the wooden cribbing had significant rot. It needed to be replaced.”

With the total weight of the bell being over 2,000 pounds, the work was calling out to be done right; doing so required the added expense of removing the bell. The goal is to return it to it principal place and purpose, 75 feet above the street.

“We thought it would be nice to ring the bell at weddings, at town meetings and at funeral services. There are times when it is appropriate to ring the bell. Up until now, it only rings the hour,” Mr. Scott said. “We don’t know the last time it was hand-rung. The parts to the flywheel are so badly deteriorated, you can’t turn it,” Mr. Scott said, adding, however, that the mahogany flywheel that held the rope is still in pretty good shape.

When the bell was first installed, a churchgoer on the ground floor used to be able to pull a rope and hand-ring the bell. The bell used to rotate back and forth. Some time later, due to mechanical problems, the bell was made stationary.

To chime the hour, the bell was rung electrically on the hour by a hammer that hit the bell.

In the weeks ahead, a crew will repair the floor within the tower. The rotting wood will be replaced with pressure-treated marine timbers. That work is being done by Steve Ewing, of Aquamarine of Edgartown. Usually he builds and rebuilds piers, but he will replace the cradle stationed under the floor that holds the bell.

“I never dreamed I would be offered a job like that. This is a real pleasure,” said Greg Blaine, an Edgartown metalworker who is working on the metal assembly. Mr. Blaine said the metal legs and yolk that hold the bell are in good shape, and will be sandblasted and repainted.

On Wednesday of this week, Mr. Blaine made a special trip to New Hampshire to meet with a pattern maker. A foundry in Rhode Island will make the necessary spokes to rebuild the four-foot, seven-inch diameter wheel.

“We are lucky to have the craftsmen on the Vineyard who can take on projects like this,” Mr. Scott said. He added the trust, with the help of local talent, have kept the Flying Horses carousel, built in 1876, in good working order. The bell mechanism dates back to 1843.

The project cost is being underwritten by Edgartown’s community preservation committee, with town voter approval. Initially the cost of the project was to be within $25,000. With the removal of the bell and the additional work under the old bell, the cost may double.

Mr. Scott said the trust will meet again with the preservation committee in hopes of obtaining additional funding and keeping the final cost less than $50,000 and completed by Memorial Day weekend.

The added benefit of this project won’t be seen by most who walk by the church. But it will be heard across the town.

While the bell will return to ringing the hour, there will be a hugely different sound when the bell is hand-rung. A spinning bell with a working clapper will make a sound a good deal sweeter and alive.