The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

 
 

By Ryan Jarvi 

Timekeepers

 

Submitted photo

David Malmquist, right, and Nick Zuvich worked to clean the Seth Thomas clock mechanism at the Iron County Museum and Historical Society.

HURLEY - The Iron County Historical Society and the Iron County Museum has taken recent measures to insure the clock at the old courthouse building keeps ticking.

Members of the historical society, along with David Malmquist, a clock repairman from Ashland, recently cleaned the clock and analyzed it for further work.

"The clock is fairly dirty and I would like to take it down and overhaul the entire piece, but overall it appears to be in fairly decent shape," Malmquist said.

The historical society has taken first steps toward an analysis of vital repairs for the building.

"I think we have a much better idea of what we are looking at now in overall care of the clock, and we are gaining a better idea about the cost of clock repairs, and we remain constantly aware of the price-tag on keeping the entire facility and grounds minted with many complex needs," said Nick Zuvich, president of the Iron County Museum and Historical Society board.

The organization is in the process of working out a schedule for routine maintenance, with members of the museum doing most of the work.

However, specific repairs are too significant for museum volunteers and will need outside expertise from historic preservation or general contractors.

"Grants and a capital campaign would be beneficial," Mara MacKay, heritage tourism coordinator, said. "Based on the condition of the historic building and overall fund development picture, a grant planning process is needed."

The original clock tower of 1893 was struck by lightning on a hot July night in 1921, local historian Larry Peterson said.

"Fortunately, no one was present at the courthouse when the clock tower was struck by lightning and caught fire," Peterson wrote in a recent news release. "By the time help arrived on the scene, flames were eating their way into the interior of the tower's roof and clock room."

The Hurley Fire Department, which was stationed inside the courthouse, had a difficult time attempting to extinguish the fire because of it being located at the top of the tower.

The extinguishing effort turned to one of containment, which ultimately resulted in the clock crashing to the ground "...with what had to be unimaginable sounds of chimes and clanging metal... ," Peterson wrote.

"Few visitors to the present day Iron County Courthouse and Museum realize the beautiful clock, residing in the tower, is actually not the original. It is a replacement from Sept. 8, 1922," Peterson added. "The clock tower repair will be part of a comprehensive renovation process which seeks to preserve the historic clock to its proper and working condition."

The clock tower room has a display of all the original clock faces since 1893 and a handicap lift located on the stairway of the museum to allow for easy access to the viewing area.

"This has been in the works for a long time and the important preservation of the clock is one of our major concerns for this season," said Jeff Musselman, a volunteer and member of the museum board. "Along with new facts and insights from Malmquist, we are moving toward a routine maintenance schedule, which could help to improve the entire Iron County museum landmark - a jewel of Iron County heritage."

Community members are asked to donate money, time and talents to keep the museum operating on an even keel.

There is also a group of local history enthusiasts, ages 13 to 99, who meet at the museum from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

For more information or to get involved, visit the museum during operating hours: 10 a.m.-2 p.m ., Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year.