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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Old Tower Clock

Old Tower Clock

GRHC - August 1st, 2012

The clock in the tower of the old City Hall was one of the few things saved when the building was demolished. Today the beautifully restored clock keeps time and chimes the hour at its home in the Grand Rapids Public Museum.


When several urban experts arrived in Grand Rapids in 1969 to study the old City Hall and determine whether it was worthy of preservation, they were astounded to find a well-oiled clock mechanism still in place in the city hall clock tower. The clock itself hadn’t run for more than a year.

One of the experts said, “The mechanism is in beautiful condition and is probably the only one of its kind in the country. Only one noticeable thing is wrong with the clock; a small piece of it is bent. Someone has been giving this mechanism some real tender loving care.”

The ‘someone’ turned out to be Bert Bloem, a building maintenance man at the old City Hall. Bloem said he and James Huess had been tending to the mechanism for years. “People come up and look at it,” Bloem said, “A lot of schools take – or took – tours in the old city hall, and the students liked to come up in the tower. The clock mechanism worked for twelve-hour stretches. Because of a bent wire, at the end of twelve hours I would have to reset it. Other than that it worked fine.” Bloem said.

Today the beautifully restored clock resides at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Visitors can see the clock’s inner works, and three of its faces, which are 8-feet in diameter. Its hourly chimes remind old timers of the grand old City Hall.

Full Details

TitleOld Tower Clock
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; history; clock; City Hall; Grand Rapids Public Museum;
Pubdate StringAugust 1st, 2012

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