Clocktower

Rome’s Clocktower will be open for free tours Saturday from noon until 2 p.m.

Visitors will have opportunities this weekend to learn more about the history of Rome, from a Roman Chariot golf cart tour of historic downtown, to climbing to the top of Rome’s iconic Clocktower Saturday. A special narrated trip on the Roman Holiday tour boat Sunday is already sold out.

The golf car tours cost $10 and will leave from the Visitors Center at the rear of the Rome Area History Museum at 10 a.m. The tour will take about an hour and a half.

Local historian Selena Tilly will lead the tours and asks people who are interested get to the Visitors Center by 9:45 a.m.

The Clocktower tours are free from noon to 2 p.m. The Clocktower was originally constructed in 1871 as a water tower, capable of holding a quarter of a million gallons of water. Its location on top of the hill was chosen to provide sufficient pressure to serve a growing post-Civil War Rome, yet some locals were concerned, back in the day, that it might provide to much pressure.

The tower was built using iron sheets that were manufactured at the Noble Foundry which used to be located near the intersection of Broad Street and East First Avenue. When the superstructure with the clock was added a year later, it brought the total height of the tower to 104 feet.

A spiral stairway with over 100 steps takes visitors to the platform atop the water tank.

“To be honest with you I’ve never really counted them,” Tilly said. “I’m usually out of breath about half way up.”

Over the years, the tower has been the focus of several restoration efforts including projects spearheaded by the Rome Jaycees in the 1980s and 1990s. The most recent work, a project done in several phases, started in October 2016 and was funded with assistance from the city, the Rome Area Heritage Foundation, as well as the Office of Tourism. It included refurbishing the original clockworks which are on display inside the tank, replacing rotted wood panels, painting wood surfaces such as the clock face, installing new flooring and updating the landscaping.

“It’s like taking a walk through time,” Tilly said of the Clocktower tour.

Much of the brick work surrounding the old water tank was repointed within the last year.

The park at the base of the tower is known as Bailey Park, named for a former Rome city commissioner C.W. Bailey who served from 1925-1928. Gardens in the park are maintained by the various garden clubs in Rome and have recently been listed on the Rosalyn Carter Butterfly Trail.

Tilly said that while Clocktower tours are free, they do accept donations which are earmarked for continuing restoration and maintenance of both the Clocktower and the park.

On Sunday, Tilly and Dennis Nordeman will explain more Rome history, with emphasis on the role of the rivers, on a sold out Roman Holiday tour.