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Cabarrus Magazine

Cabarrus Time Savers Take on the Old Courthouse Clock Restoration Project

Aug 29, 2018 04:50PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Courtesy of the Historic Cabarrus Association/Concord Museum Facebook page @HistoricCabarrusAssociationConcordMuseum

The Historic Cabarrus County Courthouse, that now is the home to the Cabarrus Arts Council, removed the old clock from the bell tower for repairs on August 25. The Cabarrus Time Savers, a local nonprofit comprised of a group of locals passionate about time pieces in the community, is assisting with the restoration of the county-owned clock.

The Cabarrus Time Savers are Alex Porter, an incorporator and Secretary of Cabarrus Time Savers, Inc. Other incorporators and officers are Scott Schmeiser, Chairman; Lois Marlow, Co-Chair; and Sharon Kiser, Treasurer. Dane Laney and Bill Hallman also serve on the Board of Directors. CTS recently incorporated with 501 (c) (3) status from the IRS. All donations to CTS are tax deductible.

The purpose of Cabarrus Time Savers is to identify publicly viewed timepieces such as tower clocks and street clocks and to provide expertise, advice, research, and aid in fund raising for preservation or restoration of these invaluable items. "Our interests lie primarily in, but are not limited to, spring or weight driven clocks," Porter  said of the nonprofit. "Our first project is the tower clock installed in 1876 in the historic Cabarrus County Courthouse. The clock and the Courthouse are owned by Cabarrus County."

The Cabarrus Time Savers during the August 25th clock disassembly and removal. Left to right: Cabarrus County Project Manager; Phil Wright from Tower Clock Company of South Charleston, Ohio; Josh Weaver, a local volunteer; and Scott Schmeiser, founder and Chairman of Cabarrus Time Savers.

This project has been years in the making, and is anticipated to take years to complete. Since the clock hasn't been working, local groups like the Cabarrus Time Savers thought it was time to bring the historic piece back to its intended, ticking form. 

Kyle Bilafer, Area Manager of Operations, took to the council early August to propose the timeline and changes that need to be made. "After talking with the Cabarrus Time Savers," Bilafer said to the council. "It could take up to three years to rebuild that clock, worst case scenario."

The new estimated time that was revealed to the council was longer than initially anticipated. All the parts included in the clock need to be re-cast and restored to the original style it was when it was created in 1876, Bilafer noted. 

Luckily, the Cabarrus Time Savers are hopeful that the restoration won't take that long, but it's a "worst case scenario" timeline that Bilafer presented. 

The Residents of Historic Concord (RHC) made a $10,000 donation to the clock restoration itself. "Cabarrus County is making updates to the building while Cabarrus Time Savers is handling the restoration of the clock and related components," 
Scott Schmeiser, a member of the Cabarrus Time Savers, told us. "We are doing all the fund raising for the restoration and anything not related to the facility/Courthouse itself.  It's a big undertaking, but the community has really stepped up to offer help and donations to see that wonderful clock function again." 

RHC is the neighborhood association from the three residential Historic Districts near downtown Concord. It was RHC's generous donation that helped CTS get started.

A big requirement of the restoration project was the removal of the clock itself, which is a Hotchkiss/Seth Thomas clock with some parts dating back to its installation in 1876. This is easier for construction, as well as allows the more specific and sensitive parts to be brought to Ohio where Phil Wright, a well-known restorer of the Tower Clock Company, resides. Wright was part of a project in 2009 to assist in the clock restoration. Schmeiser will be working with Wright, but in Cabarrus County.

Though hundreds of miles apart, both groups will be working together throughout the project to restore the clock to its original glory. This means that pieces will be not only repaired, but some completely remade. 

Originally, the clock was created without a mechanism to automatically wind the weights, so it was wound up by hand every 8 days or so. Since then, attempts have been made to successfully motorize it, but with little reward. "The clock was not designed to operate with electric motors and will be returned to its weight driven design with auto-winding devices for reduced service intervals and clock longevity," a report presented to the council stated. 

Erected in 1876 and on the National Register of Historic Places, the courthouse is one of North Carolina’s finest late 19th century public buildings, according to the Historic Cabarrus Association. "The historic courthouse building is a synthesis of the Greek Revival, Italianate and Second Empire styles."

Inside resides The Galleries, the Gallery Gift Shop, the Davis Theatre, and The Concord Museum. 

To keep up with the Cabarrus Time Savers and their projects, follow them on their blog at http://cabarrustimesavers.blogspot.com/

Cabarrus County Agenda Workshop Mtg 08.06.2018

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