With the clock’s hands ticking toward 100 years since the original clock tower above Town Hall was constructed, Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino stood on the roof of the new Town Hall building to announce the complete restoration and enhancement of the historic timepiece. Replacing the historic four-faced clock that was originally constructed in 1918, the new tower clock features four replaced dials and hands, automatic reset for daylight savings and potential power outages, Westminster Chimes, as well as new multi-color L.E.D. backlighting.
“The residents of America’s largest township can once again look up at the historic clock with pride,” said Santino. “It is fitting that the restoration was completed in time for the 100th anniversary of the clock coming up next year. As an added bonus, the clocks again serve their intended purpose, displaying accurate time.”
In September of last year the town began the project to repair the tower and clock which included updates to its functions. The repair included four new timepieces and hands, and one Verdin Master Clock Controller with automatic reset for daylight savings and power outages. The tower wood trim and sheet metal were restored, and the dome of the tower was gilded in gold, restoring a lustrous appearance. Electrical upgrades to the tower were made as well. A new function includes the multi-color L.E.D. backlighting of the dials which can be lit white, blue, green and red. The total cost of the project was $160,000 and it was completed in late February.
“Hempstead Town Hall has a rich history, and the preservation of town hall and its clock tower are important parts of preserving our government’s identity,” Senior Councilwoman Goosby said. “I am proud to see the clock tower in such beautiful and working condition.”
The clock’s restoration marks Hempstead Town’s second major rehabilitation of the historic clock tower and its movement. In 1996, the Verdin Company installed new clocks in the tower. The family owned Verdin Company’s craftsmanship is displayed in more than 50,000 installations worldwide, including the Smithsonian Institute, Walt Disney World, the University of Notre Dame, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the World Peace Bell and the Mayo Clinic.
The original contract for the tower clock was signed by the Town of Hempstead and the E. Howard Clock Company in 1918. The contract called for the construction of a “#1 Hour Strike and Westminster Chiming Tower Clock, arranged with dial works, shafting and all connections to operate hands to four dials measuring approximately 4 feet 4 inches in diameter.” The original tower clock also had numerals acid etched, filled with enamel and stippled on the back; all weights were automatically wound by motors (one motor for each weight), had minute control for operating secondary clocks and an automatic device to control hours of Westminster Chiming. The contract also contained a guarantee that the clock would run without a variation of more than one minute a month.
“Preserving our history is an important part of our legacy as a people,” said Santino. “The walls of this Town Hall are rich with the history of America’s largest township.”
The clock tower refurbishment was part of a $2 million rehabilitation project that has witnessed the restoration of the entire exterior of the historic Hempstead Town Hall. The project has included the repointing of brick facades, recasting of deteriorated headers and capstones, reconstruction of the main staircase and replacement of the roof. The construction cost to build the structure in 1918 was $75,000. New York State Governor Charles S. Whitman spoke at the laying of the building’s cornerstone, and a copper box (time capsule) was placed in the cornerstone. It contained the names of town residents who were fighting in World War I, as well as the town’s first tax roll.
“From now on, when you walk or drive by Town Hall, you can be proud of the historic clock tower which serves as an icon of the Town of Hempstead,” said Councilman D’Esposito.
“The ‘time was right’ to repair our historic clock tower at the seat of government in Hempstead,” concluded Santino. “And, I am proud to say we have a beautiful timepiece to keep track of the memories.”