Foundation: $300,000 needed to 'Save the Clock Tower'
1890 structure requires repairs bell maintenance, repairs to masonry, clock faces and lighting
When it sounds twice per hour, the bell can be heard nearly two miles away. At 2.5 tons, it shakes the wooden floor of the clocktower underfoot.
Pretty soon someone is going to have to rotate and repair it. This requires loosening a set of 4.5 inch nuts. This is one small part of the overall repairs the iconic structure needs.
Larry Bristow is Vice President of the Old Courthouse Foundation. He says the bell and the interior and exterior of the clock tower needs about $300,000 worth of work.
Up in the clock room of the tower, old mortar crunches underfoot along the spiral staircases near the brick wall. This is the mortar that will need to be replaced between the bricks, which is called "tuck pointing."
There's also masonry work to be done outside the structure. A 30 pound chunk of limestone fell from the clock tower 18 months ago, crashing through a skylight into the basement of the courthouse. Bristow said no one was hurt, but it did illustrate the need for repairs. "When that hunk fell, that sort of startled everybody into an awareness that we got to do something sooner rather than later," Bristow said.
A large 'chunk' of that budget though, will go to repairing the clock faces and their structure.
“And looking at the clock faces, you can see that this is where a lot of money needs to be spent," Bristow said. "The clock faces themselves are seven and a half feet high. They're iron frame set in a wood set in a wood frame. And then the sections are filled in with a frosted glass, a lot of the glass is broken, the wood frame is rotten. We don't know the condition of the actual iron clock face itself.”
He's not even sure how the contractors will be able to remove the clock faces from the outside. “It's going to be quite a job," he said. "But it's got to be done.”
He said the iconic building is worth saving — even for such a price.
“When you think of Evansville if there's one building you can pick — this is it. To keep the bell sounding, to keep the clock running to keep the sculpture work on the outside — it’s our sculpture work that sort of defines the building," he said. "It's an important part of the identity of who we are.”
Right now his organization is still in the planning stages. They are accepting donations at www.oldvanderburghcourthouse.com.