Sunday, November 8, 2009

St. Hubert's Chapel Clock & Bell Tower

St. Hubert's Chapel Bell Tower stairsBack on Sunday, July 5th, 2009, we had a very special experience, courtesy of Tom Kline... A tour and visit to the St. Hubert's Chapel clock and bell tower and a view that left us breathless.

The St. Hubert's Chapel clock and bell tower are -understandably- not part of the tours that Tom offers. Because the stairs are extremely narrow, with a few steps missing, and there are plenty of metal parts sticking out in places offering the potential to get caught on.

Tom wanted to be able to share the experience with others and felt that pictures and an account in The Smoke Rise & Kinnelon Blog would do just that.

Nonetheless, this special visit not only took us up the tower but also back in time to appreciate the effort and careful detail that Francis S. Kinney put into the creation of St. Hubert's Chapel.

I hope you can imagine how excited we were to absorb the experience and to hear Tom Kline describe the many details of the Chapel Clock & Bell Tower.

St. Hubert's Chapel Bell TowerIf you've participated in one of Tom's Chapel Tours, you may remember seeing a poster inside the Chapel describing the Fresco.

That poster includes a description of the clock and bell tower, too.

Here is what it says:

"... A small door leads to the clock and bell tower. Three large brass bells can be found one flight up. The largest is 43" across the base. Cast in Baltimore, Maryland in 1886, the bells were mounted onto huge oak beams and set into place wile the tower was under construction."

St. Hubert's Chapel McShane Bell

The photo shows you the largest bell. Note the words:

"McShane Bell Foundry, Henry McShane Co., Baltimore, MD, 1886."

[Note that McShane Bell Foundry, with its own Wikipedia entry -unfortunately, not very detailed- has also been featured on Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs!] Here is an Index to Chimes by McShane - no St. Hubert's listed, though.]

St. Hubert's Chapel Clock mechanismFrom the photos, you can somewhat appreciate the narrowness of the circular staircase and also how massive the beam is that supports the bells and the clock weights.

Continuing on with the description.

"The circular staircase winds past these chimes to another platform which supports the tower clock. The clock is a manual wind-four dial tower clock manufactured by E. Howard and Company of Boston. Howard clocks are considered by collectors to be the finest clocks manufactured. The mechanism operates off three weights totaling some 2,500 pounds and would chime the hour and quarter-hour.

For safety reasons, the tower is closed.

The clock mechanism is truly remarkable.

Think about it. This is a mechanism that was put into commission in 1886 - more than 100 years ago. And, yet, it stills keeps time.

Yes, it needs manual winding, but it still keeps time.


St. Hubert's Chapel clock & bell support
Here, you see the view up the tower with the various beams supporting the weight mechanisms.

St. Hubert's Chapel clock workings
There are three separate clocks: for minutes, hours and chimes.

St. Hubert's Chapel - more on the inner clock workings

I love the elegance of the mechanisms, all cast iron, very solid and enduring the test of time. Hah! Pun intended.

Now, in inviting us to visit the St. Hubert's Chapel Clock Tower, Tom promised us a view that we would never forget. Given how dark the inside of the tower is, we weren't sure what to expect... until he removed the whole clock face from the tower wall.

St. Hubert's Chapel clock face

... and showed us this amazing view.

St. Hubert's Chapel Clock & Bell Tower view

A View of The Land (and water) Where The Smoke Rises.

Thank you, Tom!

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