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Armory gets gears in motion for clock tower restoration fundraiser

Date: 2/19/2015

SPRINGFIELD – For more than a century, the clock in the tower at the Springfield Armory was a landmark in the city. Now there is an effort to return the clock to work and reestablish its significance.

The Springfield Armory Alliance, the newly formed non-profit group designed to support the Armory Museum, has launched a fundraising campaign to install a new mechanism for the clock called “Got A Minute?” According to Shera Cohen, a member of the Alliance, the goal is $12,000. So far Smith & Wesson has donated $2,000, while others have contributed an additional $500. Cohen said an additional pledge of $5,000 has been made.

The hope is to have the clock restored and back on the job sometime this spring.

Curator Alex MacKenzie said the clock was installed in 1850 when the building that currently is the home to the museum was constructed. Ransom Smith, a clock-making firm from New York City, built it for the Armory.

About 10 years ago, the clock stopped running. MacKenzie said, “It takes a lot of effort to keep those historic mechanism working.”

The actual clock workings were recently removed and preserved in the museum’s collection, MacKenzie noted.

The goal of the campaign to restore the clock would not be the re-installation of the original workings, but rather bringing in a new electrically driven clock, he added. The existing hands, faces and brass bells on the tower would be maintained.

Originally, MacKenzie said, the clock was operated by a series of weights, which had to be wound back up into the tower.

Donations are tax-deductible. Checks may be written to Springfield Armory Alliance, One Armory Square, Suite 2, Springfield, MA 01105. For information, email or call 271-3982.