For Allen Norwood, time stood still Tuesday morning. Until he moved it.
Norwood, the crane operator for Bowling Green’s WAKY Signs and Awnings, drove the flatbed truck that moved the historic Seth Thomas Clock Co. pedestal clock from its longtime home in front of 922 State St. to a spot in front of the Warren County Courthouse on East 10th Avenue.
The move of roughly a city block was time-freezing deja vu for Norwood, who was the crane operator back in 1975 when much of the clock was replaced after it was hit by a truck.
“When (Warren County Building Superintendent James Marcrum) called me the other day to ask about moving the clock, I told him I helped put it there in 1975,” said Norwood, 65. “The pedestal was already there. We just put a new head on it.”
This time, Norwood and county public works employees moved the entire pedestal and two-faced clock, using the crane to hoist the one-ton, 15-foot-tall timepiece onto the truck and then lowering it onto a concrete base that Marcrum and his crew had prepared in front of the courthouse.
It was a move of necessity – made to make room for a new clock purchased by the Bowling Green Rotary Club – but also a relocation more in keeping with the history of the clock and the courthouse.
When the Rotary Club announced plans to put a new clock in front of the 922 State St. building owned by Tom Blair, Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon welcomed the chance to marry the historic clock and the historic courthouse, which was built in 1869.
“We’re excited to have it here,” Buchanon said Tuesday as he watched the clock take its place near the courthouse’s main entrance. “The downtown area has changed and is more modern. This clock fits the architecture and period of the courthouse much better.”
Although it’s missing some of its original parts and has been converted from a mechanical timepiece to an electric one, the Seth Thomas clock has a history that dates back more than a century.
It was first placed in front of the J.W. Campbell Jewelry Store at 906 State St. in 1913. It remained there until 1946, when it was purchased by American National Bank and relocated to the sidewalk in front of the bank building at 922 State St.
That building has undergone several renovations and is now home to the Carr, Riggs & Ingram accounting firm and the City-County Planning Commission of Warren County.
Blair, the building owner, was happy to donate the clock to the county when told about the Rotary Club’s plans to commemorate the club’s 100th anniversary by erecting a more modern clock on the site.
“I think this will be a great repurposing of that clock,” Blair said after Warren Fiscal Court voted to accept his donation of the clock. “It’s an historical item. I’m glad the county is finding an appropriate location for it.”
The Seth Thomas clock has a new home, but Marcrum said it will be a while before it’s fully functional. The faces of the clock that will face northwest toward the Warren County Justice Center and southeast toward State Street were removed Tuesday, and both clear coverings will be replaced by WAKY Signs.
Marcrum hopes the clock that hasn’t functioned for a few years can be easily restored.
“It may not need anything done to it other than rewiring,” Marcrum said.
Public works employees have run electricity to the clock, along with some other possible functions that were never part of the clock’s history.
“We ran water to it and plan to eventually have a hydrant in the middle of it,” Marcrum said. “With the electricity we’ve run to it, we can put in LED lighting.”
Marcrum explained that the county has plans to take out part of the sidewalk in front of the courthouse and replace some of the trees.
Although it’s historic, the clock could have some modern features.
“We have extra conduits for data or for cameras,” said Josh Moore, the county public works director. “We’re always thinking about what we might need for the future.”
The future of what’s now an empty space on the sidewalk in front of 922 State St. is already taking shape.
Rotary Club members raised $24,000 to purchase a pedestal clock from the Verdin Clock Co. of Cincinnati. The club’s president, Alan Palmer, said the clock is now being stored by Bowling Green Municipal Utilities.
Plans call for the new clock to be erected on the State Street site and dedicated in September, the month the local Rotary Club was started in 1920.
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