Chelsea City Hall Tower Clock history

The restored clock tower on City Hall has brought up some interest in the history of the old clock, with Public Works Director Fidel Maltez noting this week that the clock is quite noteworthy.

Maltez said the clock is being restored off site by an expert on clock towers, who provided the city with a thorough description of the history of the clock mechanism in City Hall. Part of the City Hall Tower restoration project includes full restoration of the mechanism to its original design of 1908.

“We are very lucky to have such an amazing piece of history in City Hall,” said Maltez. “The clock mechanism will be reinstalled in the City Hall tower over the next few weeks.”

The four clock faces on top of Chelsea City Hall are operated by a single mechanism made in 1908 by the E. Howard Clock Company in Boston. The clock mechanism is a #2 Timepiece and was equipped with an ‘Illumination Regulator’ to light the clock faces by gas or electricity. The clock mechanism is centrally located on the same level with the faces and turn the hands by four driveshafts, one to each clock face.

Originally the clock operated by 300 lbs of cast iron weights that were automatically rewound by an electric motor which eliminated the need for weekly hand winding. Accurate time was maintained by a 7-1/2 foot long pendulum that protruded through a slotted opening in the floor.

At some point, probably the 1980s, the pendulum and weights were removed and the clock was converted to operate by a small electric motor. Two of the large iron pulleys that suspended the weights by steel cable still remain overhead on the Broadway side of the clock tower. The Illumination Regulator was also replaced by an electric timer to light the clock faces at night time.

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