Monday, April 13, 2009

Courthouse Clocks

Many of Iowa's county courthouses are crowned with beautiful towers with a large clock. The courthouse typically was built in the middle of the business district, and the large clock, usually with a bell to sound each hour and quarter hour, served as the official timepiece to keep the community on time. Over time many of these tall towers were removed: the weight of the stone or brick threatening the structure of the courthouse, or pieces of the clock tower started falling.

This article features clocks listed in a Seth Thomas catalog, circa 1911. Iowa's installations of Seth Thomas clocks, including these courthouses, are listed on page 44.

Appanoose County Courthouse
The clock tower, rising from the center of the courthouse, features the four-faced clock. The Seth Thomas Clock, Model #15, was manufactured in 1905. It underwent major repairs in 1936, and in 1975 after it was struck by lightning. It was restored in 2003 by Rory DeMesy.

Chickasaw County Courthouse

Clay County Courthouse
The clock tower was added in 1910 to the 1901 courthouse.

Davis County Courthouse
The four-sided clock is the pride of Bloomfield. The clock tower is 123 feet above the ground. The 1876 Seth Thomas clock and 1878 Kimberly Bell underwent recent restoration by Rory DeMesy.

Decatur County Courthouse

Grundy County Courthouse
The clock was installed in the tower in 1900 - five years after the courthouse was completed.

Jasper County Courthouse
The clock has four dials, each 8 feet high, and was provided through private donations. The self-winding clock automatically turns on its lighted face at night and turns off at dawn.

Keokuk County Courthouse
The clock was paid through contributions

South Lee County Courthouse

Lucas County Courthouse
The tower's clock was donated by Smith Henderson Mallory in 1894.

Madison County Courthouse
The bell and fourth-faced illuminated clock grace the dome, which is 136 feet above the ground. The clock was restored with new hands and cast aluminum gears in 1975.

Monroe County Courthouse

Tama County Courthouse
The 1914 courthouse clock was restored in 2003 by Lloyd Larish of Faribault, MN

Taylor County Courthouse
The Seth Thomas clock in the dome and the building itself are illuminated at night. Only 82 clocks of this model were built.

Winnebago County Courthouse

Wright County Courthouse

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