The Mountain Times

°F Thu, April 24, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Green Mountain College discovers tower clock

When Green Mountain College's facilities director Glenn LaPlante made a routine inspection of the College's Ames Tower a few weeks ago, he made a startling discovery. Carefully scratching away paint on the surface of the east side of the cupola, he discovered not an ornamental wooden panel but a pane of glass.

The next day LaPlante made another visit to the tower on a hydraulic lift-this time, equipped with a paint scraper. In a matter of minutes he carefully removed a layer of white paint which had obscured a glass clock face for about 50 years.

"It was like peeling back a layer of time, so to speak," said LaPlante. "The face of the clock is in excellent condition."

LaPlante recently repainted the cupola dome and was assessing necessary repairs to the tower when he made the discovery.

The College invited Joe Duffy of Poultney to inspect the clock. Duffy and his brother Christopher operate Church Specialties, a business concentrating on church bell and clock tower restoration. Duffy determined the clock, a Telechron model, could be made operable again with a new motor. The cost to repair the clock is estimated to be $3700.

No one in town or at the College can recall precisely when the clock was obscured. Photo records reveal the clock face was visible as late as 1956-photos dating after 1961 show it painted over.

The Telechron company was established by the inventor Henry Warren in Ashland, Mass. in 1912. He specialized in battery powered clocks until 1915 when he invented a self-starting synchronous motor consisting of a rotor and coil. When Warren retired in 1943, General Electric gradually absorbed the business. Clocks labeled "Telechron" or "General Electric" were both made in the Ashland, Mass. factory. Photos of Ames tower taken shortly after the building dedication in 1908 show a clock was in the tower. But the Telechron clock must have been installed at a later date.

At noon on June 28 LaPlante removed the clock from the tower-Duffy transported it to Massachusetts on Friday, June 29 for repairs.

Tagged: Ames Clock Tower, Green Mountain College