Bringing Back the Clock and Bell

Updated: November 22, 2019 11:08 AM
Created: November 21, 2019 07:48 PM

(ABC 6 News)-- The Rochester Fire Department is looking to bring a piece of the past into the future of downtown.

Before there were phones and even sirens, firefighters used a bell.


"The bell was originally a fire bell. It actually sat at the very first Rochester fire station and it would ring to alert the volunteer fire department at that time that they were needed for their service," said Kevin Whaley, the Collections Manager with the History Center of Olmsted County.

The infamous bell from the first community fire station has spent a little more of its life in storage, according to Rochester Fire Chief Eric Kerska, but it's still been through the wringer of Rochester's rich history.

In an article provided by the History Center, most of the buildings back in the 1800s were made of wood, including the first fire station. Which essentially resulted in its loss.

"That one burned down," said Whaley.

The second station was bought out by a power plant next to it, due to all of the growth of the community. 

"Then that's when the third one which also became known as the Central Fire Station- was built and that's when the clock eventually comes into the story too," said Whaley.

The clock was built by a well-known clock-maker Seth Thomas, and the community fundraised to purchase the clock for $3500. It became a centerpiece for the community as it sat above the central station with the bell, and the station was literally in the center of what is now south Broadway.

"It resided in the center of the city until 1930 when the Central Station had to be torn down for highway 63." Kerska

In 2015 the clock and bell went back into storage, and now, the plan to bring back the historic hands of time is being discussed.

"All the parts are here. The faces, the clock faces are in those boxes, you see the bell you see the mechanism for keeping time. It's all here, it's all restored, it's all ready to go. What we need is a tower to put it in," said Chief Kerska.

Currently, the fire department is working to revamp some of the plans to bring back the clock and bell. Cheif Kerska says since both items are still in good shape and fully functioning, all that's needed is a tower to house them.

Before committing to an idea of how much the restoration of the clock and bell will cost, Chief Kerska says they'll have to have the plans and placement of the new tower approved by the city.

The digital graphic of where the new tower will stand places it beside Rochester Fire Station number 1 on 6th street SW, just a block away from where it originally stood with the Central Fire Station. 

At the right time, and with a little help from the community Cheif Kerska says let's put the clock and bell back up.

For photos and more info about the clock and bell click this link.

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