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Clock tower bell at restored Old Erie County Hall to ring New Year's Eve for first time in approximately 30 years


Thu, Dec 31st 2015 08:50 pm

Completion of restorations to 140-year-old structure will be marked when bell rings

The celebration of renovations at the restored Old Erie County Hall at 92 Franklin St., in the City of Buffalo, will continue tonight when the clock tower bell of the public building rings for the first time in roughly three decades.

Now in working order as part of a three-year, $3.4 million restoration project, the clock tower bell will help ring in the new year when it rings multiple times at midnight tonight and then rings once an hour thereafter as county officials put the finishing touches of the renovations at Old County Hall.

"The restoration of Old County Hall helped to restore the glory of a beautiful public building that has been at the center of life in Erie County for nearly 150 years," Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said. "The ringing of the clock tower bell tonight will help signify the vision and hard work of our forefathers. The investment made in restoring the building embraces their vision and has helped to return this historical and iconic structure to its rightful place of prominence in our community."

Begun in 2012 and completed this past fall, the restoration project encompassed the entire building and grounds, with the rebirth of the clock tower one of the highlights since it has been totally refurbished and is now functional for the first time in years, complete with a lighted face and computer-assisted timekeeping mechanism.

In addition to the restoration of the iconic clock tower, other work that took place over the past three years included masonry repointing, removal and replacement of copper gutters, and repairs to structural steel supports.

Constructed in Buffalo at the corner of Franklin and Church streets from 1872-75, the structure officially opened to the public in 1876 and served as offices for government officials from both Erie County and the City of Buffalo until 1932, at which point city government moved its offices to the current Buffalo City Hall.

"The restoration of this historic building was a lengthy process that was able to happen thanks to cooperation between our department and the contractors who helped make this project a success," Erie County Commissioner of the Department of Public Works John Loffredo said. "Old County Hall looks great and will be a public building that can be showcased for many years to come. The ringing of the clock tower bell tonight will help to not only celebrate the new year, but also recognize the completion of this project."

Facts about Old County Hall:

•The building was designed by Architect Andrew J. Warner and constructed from 1872-75; the cornerstone was laid in the spring of 1872. Warner also served as the supervising architect during construction of the H.H. Richardson Complex at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center in 1870.

•It was the tallest local building constructed in the 1870s, and stood as the tallest building in Buffalo until the construction of the Electric Tower in 1912. The building's architecture is in the Victorian Romanesque style, widely seen in the Gilded Age, and the building is on the National Register of Historic Places; the clock tower also originally held an observatory.

•Grover Cleveland began his political career here, serving as Erie County sheriff and ultimately ascending to the U.S. presidency, where he became the only president to ever serve two nonconsecutive terms in office. A public wake for assassinated President William McKinley drew an estimated 90,000 people to the site in during the Pan-American exposition in 1901. The spot where McKinley's body laid in state is preserved inside.

•The structure is now home to the offices of the Erie County Legislature, as well as county court offices. The architect for the restoration project was Lauer Manguso and Associates, masonry repair was completed by Lupini Construction, roofing and sheet metal work was done by Weaver Metal and Roofing, and exterior lighting work was completed by Weydman Electric. The restoration project's landscape contractor was MER Services of WNY.

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