Ad­just­ing the clock no easy task at his­toric Ch­ester County Court­house

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - TURN BACK TIME - By Pete Bannan pban­nan@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @pe­te­ban­nan on Twit­ter

For most peo­ple, turn­ing clocks back one hour was an au­to­mated task, but em­ploy­ees at the his­toric Ch­ester County Court­house had to climb the 60 stairs from the his­toric sec­ond­floor court­room into the cupola to change the time on the four faces of the county court­house.

Dave Moore and Ron Bren­ne­man took care of the task shortly be­fore 8 a.m. Mon­day.

“It’s like a grand­fa­ther clock,” said Moore, who has worked for the county for the past 32 years. “You can’t turn it back; you ac­tu­ally have to go for­ward.”

To min­i­mize the repet­i­tive bell strik­ing, Moore un­hooked

the ringer that runs from the clock up to the 1836 J. Wil­bank bell hang­ing 30 feet over­head.

“If we didn’t un­hook the bell, we would get a lot of calls ask­ing why the bell keeps ring­ing,” Moore said.

The elec­tric drive was turned off as Bren­ne­man man­u­ally turned the fac­ing arm on one of the four clock faces. A se­ries of in­ter­lock­ing gears con­nect each face to the clock mech­a­nism.

The clock tower is loaded with his­tory dat­ing back to its con­struc­tion in 1836 in­clud­ing leg­end of a ghost of one of the builders.

Var­i­ous vis­i­tors and work­ers have left their names and marks on the bell, clock and tower over the years.

One writ­ten on the east­fac­ing glass face states: “Minute hand re­paired March 27, 1974 by Mered­ith Cooper - Clerk of Courts”; an­other one writ­ten on the bell reads: “R. Carem 7,14,04.”

A 1966 story in the Daily Lo­cal News re­ported the

clock threw out base­balls at noon dur­ing a pe­riod of its long ser­vice.

John Abra­ham, fa­cil­i­ties man­ager, said the clock is mainly main­te­nance free. He said Moore and Bren­ne­man han­dle most pe­ri­odic main­te­nance such as oil­ing gears. He said the county uti­lizes Rodgers Clock Ser­vice of Har­ris­burg for ma­jor re­pairs.

A phone call to Rodgers Clock Ser­vice was an­swered by Robert Rodgers Mon­day. His fa­ther Bert started the busi­ness in the 1940s “and I’m still at it.” The clock, he said, is not the orig­i­nal clock.

“My ex­pe­ri­ence would tell me that clock would have been built by E. Howard Clock of Bos­ton in the 1930s -1940s. It was a weight-driven clock. Orig­i­nally, some­one would have had to gone up weekly to wind the clock.”

He said two weights were in­volved. That would in­clude a time weight, weigh­ing 200 to 400 pounds, and a striker weight could have been 800 to 1,000 pounds.

He said the clock was built to be pulled by that weight, but now with elec­tri­fi­ca­tion it is pushed, which lessens wear on the clock.


Ch­ester County em­ployee Ron Bren­ne­man turns the clock faces on the Ch­ester County Court­house Mon­day to ad­just for the end of day­light sav­ing time.

Above, Ch­ester County em­ployee Ron Bren­ne­man looks at the many names carved on the walls in the clock tower of the his­toric Ch­ester County Court­house, the ex­te­rior of which is pic­tured at left.

Ch­ester County em­ployee Dave Moore, left, checks the gears as Ron Bren­ne­man turns the clock faces inside the clock tower of the his­toric Ch­ester County Court­house on Mon­day to ad­just for the end of day­light sav­ing time.

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