By Pat Ciarrocchi and John McDevitt
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — If you were near Independence Mall on Friday afternoon, you would have heard the bell of the clock tower ringing for the first time in 18 months.
The last time the bell in Independence Hall rang was in July 2010. The tower has been undergoing a $4 million renovation, to be complete next month.
John Spencer, Jr. is the clock caretaker, and he comes from a long line of clock-makers–his father did it before him. CBS3 and KYW Newsradio got a rare look at the bell from inside the tower.
“The clock actually tells time with a pendulum, and what you have to do–because this pendulum is so long, it’s 15 feet and probably weighs a thousand pounds–is that you have to get it swinging very slowly, ‘cause if you just give it a good shove, it breaks the little spring that hangs at the top and it’s a real problem to put it back on,” Spencer explained, while testing out the clock.
In 1928 when this clock tower was built, watches were, for the ordinary American, very expensive. So clock towers were extremely important, and the time needed to be precise. In fact, in the Independence Hall bell tower, the clock mechanism runs through four stories of the clock tower.
A lot of the clock and drive system was dissembled as restoration work to the tower itself was being done.
Repairs were made, and the clock’s mechanism was reconnected to the dial and bell. After a successful test Friday afternoon, the bell was stopped and will start up again for the ribbon-cutting ceremony on February 15th.