After 18 Months, the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower is Getting its Hands Back

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Photo via Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower website

A $1.9 million effort to repair the clock atop Baltimore’s Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower is nearing completion, with the clock hands scheduled to return to the four giant clock faces next week.

The Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, which is managing the clock restoration, has scheduled an event for Monday starting at noon to show off the reinstallation of the clock hands.

The clock hands and clock were removed in October 2015 by Balzer Family Clock Works, a company from Maine that specializes in tower clock restorations and was hired to repair the Bromo clock.

On Monday, according to BOPA, crews will work from inside the building and on a “swing-stage” scaffold outside the building to reinstall the clock hands, and Balzer representatives will be available to answer questions from the media.

Designed by Joseph Evans Sperry to look like a tower in Florence, Italy, the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower was built in 1911 at 21 S. Eutaw Street and is one of the city’s best known landmarks. It was constructed as part of the factory where the Bromo Seltzer brand of antacid was made. Since 2007, it has contained studios for local artists.

The clock stopped working in early 2014, when a compressor motor malfunctioned. Instead of opting for a short-term repair, BOPA began raising money for a complete restoration of the clock and clock tower, so that it won’t need periodic repairs in the future.

Azola Building Rehab is also part of the restoration team. Its job has been to repair cracks and deterioration in the building’s façade, caused by the weight of a 51-foot-high spinning Bromo bottle that originally topped the tower. The cracks caused leaks and water damage, which then damaged the inner workings of the clock.

Supporters of the restoration effort include the City of Baltimore; the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development; the Baltimore Development Corporation; the Maryland Heritage Area Authority; the Baltimore National Heritage Area; the Middendorf Foundation and Preservation Maryland. BOPA also launched a crowdsourced funding campaign to assist with restoration costs.

The tower has remained open to tenants and visitors while the restoration work has been underway. A formal rededication of the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower will be held on Saturday, June 10.

This story has been corrected to reflect the most accurate estimated cost for the restoration work.

Ed Gunts

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