Restoration nearly complete on clock at Cornell chapel

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MOUNT VERNON, Iowa (KCRG) Time has stood still at an eastern Iowa chapel for about a year. But that'll soon change, in just a few days.

Restoration work is ongoing on the clock in King Memorial Chapel on the Cornell College campus in Mount Vernon on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 (Jordee Kalk/KCRG)

Cornell College decided to restore the clock at King Memorial Chapel, which dates to the 1800s. The clock is just one of a few Seth Thomas Company Model 17's ever made.

It moved to the chapel on campus in 1882. It's filled with history, and even some pride.

"Cornell College can be proud of what they have here,” Chuck Roeser, owner of Essence of Time, said.

Roeser is in charge of the restoration project.

"I just got here yesterday. However, I was here a year ago, and a year before that," Roeser said.

This week, he's in charge of making sure crews assemble the clock's face properly. Roeser spent months restoring each piece of the clock after he hauled all the parts to his shop near Buffalo, New York. It included lots of detail-orientated work.

"Spent a whole year restoring it, three months for gold-leafing and roman numerals. And gold-leaf handles,” Roeser said.

He estimated it will take another two weeks to finish.

Work moved a bit faster Wednesday with help from the Cornell Baseball Team. The players carried mechanical weights up the 130-foot tower.

"It helps when you have 70 guys helping," Hunter Davis, a senior on the team, said. "We have the biggest team on campus this year, and we have a lot of strong senior leaders."

The weights are what makes the clock tick.

"And this clock is weight-driven so you have to wind it like you would any weight-driven clock, you have to crank it up,” Roeser said.

Once it's working, the clock will also strike with chimes. And that's rare for a model this old.

"All of these other clocks that were in the colleges I know of, no others that are running and striking, this will be the only one,” Roeser said.

After completion, the clock's original sounds will ring through this campus, once again.

Cornell College first discussed the restoration project years ago. The project is funded with $800,000 in grants.