Clock Tower
Rome's Clock Tower
Photograph by John Wehner
Rome's Clock Tower, atop Neely Hill overlooking downtown Rome, Georgia, houses a collection of works by local artist Chuck Schmult and offers a panoramic view of downtown. But the history of the tower goes back to just after the Civil War, and includes the Nobles, one of Rome's earliest families.

Today it is not hard to find out that the tower was built in 1871 by the city of Rome under the direction of James Noble Jr., son of the man whose immense foundry had attracted General William T. Sherman during the war. The tower represents the spirit exemplified by the people of Rome after a devastating war that took their finest and destroyed their city. Noble and others traveled to Bowling Green, Kentucky, to see a water tower the town's citizens had built. Upon return, John Jr. and others advocated building a similar tower to help with Rome's water supply. John, by the way, was also fire chief, so having abundant water to fight fires was very important to him.

Needless to say, the hot political issue at the beginning of the 1870's revolved around the tower. John prevailed and the water tower was built on Neely Hill. Additional infrastruture included piping and a pumping station near the tower to fill it from a local well. Once the water had been pumped into the tower, gravity pressurized the water to disperse it to the town. The clock, added the next year, was ordered from E. Howard Clock Company (Boston) and manufactured in their Waltham, Massachusetts, clockworks. James Noble, Jr. personally received the clock, which has a diameter of 9 feet. With the clock, the tower rises over a hundred feet and is visible from most of downtown section of Rome.

The cistern below the clock held nearly a quarter of a million gallons of water and is 26' diameter, 60' deep. Centered in the brick structure, narrow steps around the tank allow access to the top. In addition to the clock, a bell was also added. The clock tower was the highest building in the city.

By the 1890's Rome's post war growth had surpassed what the tower could supply and the city fathers decided to replace the cistern system with a reservoir located on Jackson Hill. Although the water was no longer being pumped from the tower, the clock continued to serve the business community of Rome. A renovation project completed in 1995 included replacing the clockworks.

Location: Downtown Rome
Directions: Take I-75 Exit 290 (GA 20) west for 2.3 miles. Bear right on a ramp to U.S. 41. Follow signs to Rome for the next 21.8 miles, finally merging into U. S. 27 (the Martha Berry Highway). Travel 1 mile to Broad Street. Turn left and make another left on 5th Ave. Clock Tower is ahead and to the right.
Additional information:
Hours=Open Weekends
Date added: November 16, 2003
Last update: January 23, 2004

Other Attractions in Rome
Rome Depot
Chieftains Musuem / Major Ridge Home
Rome Area History Museum
The Martha Berry Museum
Oak Hill
Fort Norton
Noble Brothers Foundry
Myrtle Hill

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Cooper's Iron Works
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Oostanaula River Bridge
Fort Norton
John B. Gordon Hall
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Noble Brothers Foundry
Kennesaw House
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Cagle's Dairy
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