Groundbreaking scheduled for courthouse clock improvements on Thursday

bbashioum@demo-mo.comJuly 25, 2014 

The Cass County Courthouse clock should be keeping time again within the next year.

The Cass County Historical Society, in partnership with the Cass County Commission, will be conducting a groundbreaking ceremony at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 31, for the restoration of the 1909 Seth Thomas Tower Clock over the next year.

The clock has been on the courthouse for about 105 years.

"I believe the Tower Clock Restoration Project at the Cass County Historic Courthouse is an endeavor that all Cass Countians can take pride in,” Presiding Commissioner Jeff Cox said. “Preserving our history is one of the most important things we can do for future generations."

The gathering will be held near the Dough Boy Memorial on the southwest corner of the square in Harrisonville. The public is invited to attend.

Refreshments will be served following the ceremony in the second floor courtroom of the courthouse.

The project’s expected completion date is the end of July 2015.

Commissioners signed a cost share agreement with the state’s Department of Natural Resources’ Historic Preservation Office on May 22, detailing the scope, purpose and description of the grant the county received earlier this year to repair and restore the clock fixated at the peak of the courthouse in Harrisonville.

“I believe that restoring the clock to its historical operating condition is a worthwhile endeavor,” said Cox, earlier this year.

Clock enthusiast and Cass County Historical Society Board of Directors second vice president

Larry Boucher has helped drive the bus in getting the county to look at restoring the clock by helping bring in New York Essence of Time clock restorer Chuck Roeser to examine the 1909 Seth Thomas Model No. 16 clock in 2013.

In the early 1900s, a group of 18 women spearheaded a movement to put a working clock in the courthouse clock tower. At that time, the courthouse was only a decade old, but there was no working clock in the clock tower.

The women formed the “Harrisonville Town Clock Club” on May 11, 1908 with the purpose of raising funds to purchase a clock.

According to an article in the Democrat Missourian, their meeting place, amazingly enough, was the ladies restroom in the courthouse, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday afternoons.

Over the course of a year, the club raised enough money to purchase the Seth Thomas clock one year later by hours of effort that included pie suppers, ballgames, bazaars, minstrels, and an activity the newspaper of the time called poultry and egg proposition.

They also received $200 from the county court.

Installation of the clock was complete June 10, 1909. The clock cost $1,231.

As part of the July 31 gathering, the historical society wishes to extend the invitation to descendents of the original members of the Town Clock Club.

“We are asking for the public’s help in identifying relatives of the original 1908 ‘Harrisonville Town Clock Club,’” Cass County Historical Society director Don Peters said. “It is our hope we can have them join us for the groundbreaking.”

In recent years, the clock quit working.

Records indicate the clock hasn’t been in proper working condition for about 10 years, and has failed to keep time.

The total cost of the project to restore and fix the clock is about $110,000.

The project is being funded by a 70-30 percent matching Missouri Heritage Properties grant from the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office, a division of the Department of Natural Resources.

The organization awards about $1 million annually statewide. The maximum awarded per project is $100,000.

“It’s not just going to be good for the Square, and it’s just not for Harrisonville,” Cox said. “I consider the courthouse to be a real asset for our community and it really ties into our community, history.”

The county is slated to receive $73,780 for the project, and is on the hook for the remaining $32,670 of the tab.

The project will be completed by Roeser. A crane operator will also have to be hired to remove and install all clock hands, dials, motion works, weights, and component parts.

Parts will be cleaned, repaired or replaced to restore the clock to its original condition.

The project is estimated to be completed within a year.

"We're very thankful to the Cass County Historical Society for their support of the project, and notably to Larry Boucher for all of the time and effort he has put into assisting the Commission to ensure the project's success,” Cox said. “I'd also like to thank the members of our local State legislative delegation for their letters of support, which were very helpful in our efforts to secure funding from the State."

For more information about the restoration project, or know a descendent of the 1908 Tower Clock Club, contact the Cass County Historical Society at 816-380-4396 or the County Commissioners at 816-380-8155.

Members of the Tower Clock Club included Mrs. Ryan, Mrs. Moody, Betty Glenn, Josephine Carroll, Mrs. Chas Bird, Mrs. Mayme Donaldson, Gip Glenn, John Davis, Mrs. Harvey, Mrs. Sweitzer, Mrs. Overhoffer, Mrs. Etta Benight, Mrs. Ed Deane and Harry McCollaugh.

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