This past Sunday morning, I went up into Breslin Tower here in Sewanee to watch the clock being re-set for Daylight Savings Time. Keith Henley, who has been overseeing the clock for the past two years and seems to know everything about clocks in general, was generous enough to show me around. Below are some pictures I took, with a few a remarks, and following them, a video of the Breslin Tower bells themselves, ringing out noon. The beautiful picture above, better than any of mine, is from a blog-post on Wildbloomyonder.com, with a very fine rumination on Sewanee time.
Breslin Tower, which sits beside Convocation Hall at the center of campus, was donated by Thomas and Elizabeth Breslin in memory of their daughter, Lucy, who had died at the age of eight in 1876.
If you want to go up into the tower, you have to like climbing up really steep stairs. It’s sixty feet up. These iron ones at the top are reportedly from a decommissioned naval vessel.
Once you get into the room, with its padded wool carpet, you can see the rather large clock mechanism.
It was made by the Seth Thomas Clock Company, of Connecticut. I love the original bronze plaque.
The gears of the clock are intricate, and fascinating. They also make a very satisfying sound.
Sometimes pennies are put on the pendulum, to help adjust its swing. These particular pennies have been used for over half a century.
An old hand in my hand–it’s quite light. “Gotta be light,” I’m told. “Too much weight will throw off the gears.” We can’t decide if it’s pine or balsa.
Keith is good enough to take me up to see, and hear, the bells. The print below is a framed copy from the 1907 Cap and Gown, Sewanee’s yearbook.
The largest bell weighs 2003 lbs. The inscription reads, “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of Charlotte Ferris Douglas, Anno Domini 1900. Vae Mihi Si Non Evangelisavero.” The Latin comes from St. Paul: “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1st Corinthians 9:16, KJV). The worn spot below is from where the hammer struck the bell for 112 years. “Seemed like that spot could use a break,” I was told.
The views from the belfry, into Guerry Garth and across toward All Saints Chapel and Shapard Tower, are especially impressive.
But of course what’s best is being able to listen to the chimes up close.