Clayton County Courthouse Time for more clock restoration work

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Clayton County Courthouse
A recently awarded $50,000 grant will enabled restoration work to continue on historic the Clayton County Courthouse clock tower.

By Pat McTaggart
Freelance Writer

Clayton County has received a $50,000 Historic Resource Development Program (HRDP) state grant for continuing restoration work on the County Courthouse clock tower. The grant will be used for the upper areas of the tower. Since this is the highest part of the project, the costs escalate due to the use of tall cranes needed to get to the upper areas.
The areas in need of restoration are basically from the top of the windows on all four sides upwards, including all the roofing, wood decorative pieces, the wooden louvers, metal work and weather vane. This area has significant deterioration. Kendrick Lumber in Edgewood is donating all of the wood that will be used for this phase of the project. This donation was obtained through the efforts of Clayton County Supervisor Ray Peterson.

“It is a significant donation,” said Ellen Collins of the Clayton County Historic Preservation Commission.
The total cost for the remaining part of the restoration project is $128,866.60, for which the HRDP grant will be used. Clayton County Supervisors have also authorized a $50,000 grant application to the Upper Mississippi Gaming Commission for the project.

Original estimates for the entire project topped at $432,000.
“This has been a long project but the end is in sight,” Collins said.  “It’s something to be proud of-that the county and state realize the importance of getting this done.  I am also proud of the citizen support along the way for the project.”

The Clayton County Courthouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1867-68 with an addition to the building completed during 1877-78. In 1896, the wooden clock tower was added to the structure, extending the height of the building an additional 45 feet.

In October 2013, the clock mechanism was dismantled and transported to Minneapolis, where a craftsman who specializes in historic clocks restored it. In December 2013, the restored mechanism was back in Elkader. He carted up the narrow stairs and ladder leading to the clock tower and reassembled. This phase of the restoration work took almost 700 hours.

“It was a labor of love,” said Rory DeMesy, who did the work. “We also made redwood hands for the clock, which originally had wooden hands. The wood we used is at least 400 years old and they are coated with 23 carat gold leaf.”

More recently, the clock faces were restored.
Note: Clayton County Register Editor Pam Reinig contributed to this article.

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