117-year-old clock, bell to go home
A 117-year-old Rochester timepiece soon could be ticking again with the backing of an anonymous donor, a fundraising campaign and public support.
The Rochester City Council on Monday got on board the "Bring Back the Bell" campaign, a public-private partnership to restore the clock and bell originally housed at Rochester's first fire station.
The Central Fire Station clock and bell were originally installed on the south side of Fourth Street and South Broadway Avenue in 1898. The Seth Thomas clock was a primary timepiece for the city, and the 1,200-pound bell sounded the alarm for firefighters.
The clock and bell were most recently located in a tower outside the Mayo Civic Center. They were moved when an expansion project at the civic center began earlier this year.
A large private donation could help the clock be relocated close to its original home.
"We have an anonymous donor who is willing to put up $100,000 — that would have to be matched dollar for dollar — to relocate the clock and the bell to station No. 1," Fire Chief Greg Martin said Monday.
The clock would be placed at the northwest corner of Sixth Street Southwest and South Broadway Avenue, a location Martin said would allow the four-sided clock to be seen from every angle.
The project, in total, would cost about $300,000, including design work and construction. The city's share would be for architectural services, and the Rochester Area Foundation would fundraise for the remainder of the cost.
The city council agreed to contribute $6,500, the first phase of architectural service, and to have Martin return with a request for the remainder of the city's share.
"I'm supportive of this. I think to put it back, or at least close to where it was, is a neat idea," council member Mark Bilderback said. "It's a neat, historic part of Rochester, and it would be great to have that back up where it belongs."
Council member Michael Wojcik had a disagreement with the location of the clock, at the corner of a parking lot that serves city staff and, occasionally, fire trucks during department trainings.
"I would certainly hope the future of this site is not a surface parking lot on a prominent corner in downtown Rochester," Wojcik said. "I would just hope that if we're going to put (the clock) there, that we do it in such a way that (the area) can be developed to a higher standard at some point."
The first phase of design work would take about four weeks to complete, Martin said. Funds for the project would have to be in place by 2017 for the project to proceed, he added.