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A relic of Rochester's past may soon resurface at its original location

A relic of Rochester's past may soon resurface at its original location

The Rochester Fire Department is closing in on a campaign to bring back the old Central Fire Station's bell tower clock. The department has raised about 80 percent of its $100,000 goal from corporate sponsorship, paver sales and individual donations.

In a request set to go before the city council on Monday, Fire Chief Greg Martin is asking the city to put up the remaining $21,000 toward the campaign. The money would be repaid through future fundraising efforts, says Martin, but is needed now in order to secure a $100,000 matching grant from the estate of Alan Calavano. 

Calavano, known locally as "Mr. Rochester Historian," was a leading advocate for the preservation of the clock up until his death in 2016. According to the city website, Calavano's last wish was to rescue the Central Fire Station’s clock and bell. (Calavano's obituary even suggests making donations to the clock fund in his honor).

"He felt it should be returned close to its original South Broadway location where it would serve as an important gateway architecture feature to downtown Rochester," his bio states.

Photo courtesy History Center of Olmsted County

Photo courtesy History Center of Olmsted County

The bell tower clock was built in 1899 — for a cost of $3,500 — on the south side of Fourth Street and South Broadway. The photo above, taken from around that time, shows Rochester's business district looking south to the Central Fire Station.

The clock, along with its 1,200 pound bell, was later relocated to the Mayo Civic Center. It remained on display there until 2015, when crews began renovating the facility.

You can learn more about the project on the city's website.

Cover: Rending / City of Rochester

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