Group hopes to restore Somerset County Courthouse clocks

January 19, 2019

The clocks on the Somerset County Courthouse are accurate, but only twice a day.

A group is raising funds to fix the dome’s faulty timepiece.

Somerset County Commissioner Pat Terlingo said the four clocks were installed shortly after the courthouse was built in 1906 following a community fundraising effort. He is hoping the community will once again support the clocks by donating to a fundraiser through the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies.

The commissioners are working with the foundation, Somerset County Chamber of Commerce and Somerset Inc. to raise the $20,000 needed to repair the clocks.

“I believe wholeheartedly this is a great idea because the courthouse belongs to everybody in the county,” he said.

Terlingo said he was told the clocks have not worked for the past four years and the chimes for more than 10.

He said the wooden hands on the clocks have been deteriorating and are about to fall off. He said they will be replaced with updated metal hands. The original clock worked off a pendulum system, but the system is cost-prohibitive, he said.

“The mechanism can’t be fixed in the state it is in,” Terlingo said. “When the clock worked the last time, it ran by an electrical motor.”

Terlingo characterized the previous fix as a Band-Aid. He said this fix would be more permanent. The chimes will also be repaired to chime every half-hour.

There is a way to silence the chimes if needed.

“This time it will be done correctly, and hopefully with the generous donations from the folks in this county and other entities, we can have money to set aside for future maintenance of that system,” he said. “If you do your inspection semiannually or annually, things can be looked at and taken care of before the thing breaks and is unfixable.”

Terlingo said that all donations are welcome, from $1 to $1,000.

Chamber Executive Director Ron Aldom said the courthouse is one of the most iconic structures in Somerset County. Aldom said all of the comments he has heard about the project have been positive.

“In Somerset County you cannot create a logo without having the courthouse on it,” he said.

It cost $247,444 to build the courthouse beginning in 1904. It would cost $50 million to $60 million if built today.

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