The hands on the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower clock were shaking this morning, but it wasn’t the result of a time warp. Workers were removing the massive hands, which are each made of three layers of wood held together by 200 brass bolts. After more than a century overlooking Baltimore, the iconic clock is in need of restoration.
The tower’s future as a space for arts studios was secured with a prior renovation project. Now, the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts is tending to the cracks caused by the past.
The 15-story tower is dwarfed by skyscrapers these days, but maintains its place in history for its distinct look. Bromo Seltzer inventor Capt. Isaac Emerson commissioned the tower to be modeled after the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, and made sure the clock was 2 ft. larger than Big Ben. Initially, the tower was topped by a 50-ft. replica of a blue Bromo Seltzer bottle, which was spinning and illuminated.
While Bromo Seltzer was an effective cure for headaches and hangovers, the giant replica only added pressure to the clock. As a result, the clock sustained leaks and water damage. The bottle came down, but lasting damage was done. A little less than a year ago, the clock stopped working.
So, in an effort to make sure it’s right more than twice a day, the clock is getting repaired. After the hands, the face of the clock will also be removed. Over the next 8-12 months, Balzer Family Clock Works will perform the repairs at their facilities in Freeport, Maine. In the meantime, BOPA set up a crowdfunding campaign to allow Baltimoreans to contribute to the $1.8 million project.
“When it comes back, it’ll be a piece of art in its own right,” said BOPA’s Betsy Stone.
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