Arielle Fischer, features editor 

José Reyes, asst. features editor 

Rome’s Clocktower, located in the center of Rome, is celebrating its 150-year anniversary and invites locals and tourists to celebrate with a year of events. The historic landmark was erected Jan. 27, 1872, and is a 63-foot-high tower with a superstructure a constructed on top of another, which measures 41 feet. It sits at the top of Neely Hill, a neighborhood just feet from downtown, and is one of Rome’s tourist attractions. The interior of the tower is constructed with a spiral staircase, leading visitors to the overlooking balcony where most of the city can be seen. It offers a view of Myrtle Hill and Jackson Hill, two of the seven hills that Rome is known for. Back on the ground floor, the views from Neely Hill provide photographers and artists a chance to capture a unique perspective of Rome. The Clocktower presents families and friends a space to picnic on the lawn surrounding the structure. The historic landmark has served the city of Rome a variety of purposes and its city is eager to celebrate its 150th year. 

Upcoming Events 

Photo Courtesy of John Lambert

Celebrations begin this week, Jan. 27, with the Rome Clocktower 150th Birthday Party event. The celebration, at the Clocktower, will be filled with music from the 1870’s and cake. There is no admission cost and the event will begin at 11:30 a.m. “First Saturday” Clocktower Tours will be offered April through September for a ticket fee of $10. Another event that will be rotating monthly is the Clocktower Lecture Series that will cover topics such as the Civil War and the construction of the Water System and Tank. These lectures will be held at the Rome Area History Center at 6 p.m. and tickets are $5 a person. For a full list of events check out “Georgia’s Rome” on Facebook and Instagram. 

History 

The history of Rome’s Clocktower extends back to the 1860s. According to Romegeorgia.org, James Noble Sr. and his large family had just purchased property along the Etowah River, moving from Reading, Pa., when the Civil War broke out. In years prior to the war, the Nobles had begun to establish a foundry and machine works business. When the South seceded from the Union, the Nobles converted most of their production to cannons for the Confederacy. However, in 1864, General Sherman and his armies destroyed most of Rome, including the Noble’s foundry. In the years following the destruction, Rome became desperate for a watertower, and in 1871, the Nobles stepped forward to propose construction of a 63-foot high, 250,000-gallon capacity tower on Neely Hill. The following year, the E. Howard Clock Company, of Boston, Massachusetts, crafted a clock to be added to the top of the tower, donning a massive height of 104 feet. That same year, a pure bronze bell from the Meneely Bell Foundry of West Troy, New York was installed to complete the Clocktower. Since that day in 1872, the Clocktower has gazed over the streets of Rome, with several restoration and preservation projects to maintain its historic quality in the 1980s and 1990s. The tower still stands today, and according to the Georgia’s Rome website, has functioned properly since it’s construction. 

Artistic and Cultural Ties 

Photo Courtesy of Brent Moore

Before taking the staircase to the top of the tower, guests are greeted with artwork by Chuck Schmult, a local artist, reflecting the history of Rome. There are 10 portraits painted on the steel walls of the ground floor, intended to look like film. The first mural is one of the Cherokee Native Americans fishing in the Etowah River. The second piece depicts two unnamed founders of Rome at the spring, now located downtown. The artist and commissioners of the piece also present guests with the story of John Wisdom, a Rome resident who transported Confederate mail from Rome to Gadsden, Alabama. On his way to deliver mail, Wisdom was notified that a neighboring town had been raided by Union troops and that the same troops were headed towards Rome. After hearing the news, he traveled back to Rome where he notified both his mother and the militia commander that Union troops were on their way. The artwork is still present today, along with plaques that describe the significance 

of each mural. 

The Rome Clocktower has overlooked the city for generations, watching all the changes that have occurred to downtown Rome over 150 years. With such a vast history as well as cultural and artistic significance, the citizens of Rome continue to admire and appreciate the clock, holding annual events every year to commemorate its completion and story. Now, it is up to the citizens of Rome to preserve and celebrate not only the Clocktower, but its history and culture for the city. 

Learn more about the history of the Rome Clocktower on Viking Fusion’s video story “History of the Rome Clock Tower” by Michael Myers and Mary Grace von Thron.

Posted by Campus Carrier

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