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Clock Tower
Rome, Georgia
About North Georgia

Introduction

Like Rome, Italy, Georgia's Rome is built on seven hills. On top of Clock Tower Hill, near Broad Street in downtown Rome, is the 1870's vintage Clock Tower that began its life as part of the water system.

Clock Tower
Names

In 1834, the hill that the Clock Tower sits on was known as Lowe's, although no documentation exists as to whom it was named for. When the tower was built the names Tower Hill, or more commonly, Clocktower Hill were used interchangeably until the Neeley School was built. When Neely School, named in honor of Rome's first school superintendent, opened the hill's common name became Neely Hill, although many still used the earlier names. When the Neely School closed, most people reverted to the name Clocktower Hill.

There are two names and three spellings for the tower itself; Clocktower, Clock Tower, and less frequently City Clock Tower.

Description

The clocktower is actually an old water tower built after The Civil War. The tower portion, or the drum of the water tower, is constructed of brick and built by local labor. The drum of the water tower held 250,000 gallons of water and was built at the Noble Foundry. Atop the tower is a clock built specifically for the tower by the Howard Clock Company of Boston, Massachusetts. When purchased in 1871 the cost was $1200.00.

History

Much of the early history of Rome, Georgia revolved around the Noble family. Patriarch James Noble, Senior, and his six sons moved to Rome from Reading, Pennsylvania and ran a foundry that built boilers (for locomotives, furnaces (for homes and businesses) and just about anything else made of iron. With the start of the Civil War in 1861 the Nobles converted a portion of their output to weapons, mostly cannon. The foundry was a major target of General William Tecumseh Sherman during the Atlanta Campaign. Much of the foundry was destroyed as Sherman's men withdrew to March to the Sea.

In 1870 James Noble, Sr. proposed a water tower atop Lowe's Hill to increase the water pressure in the Rome water system. Apparently the town was deeply divided on the issue since it defeated the first bond referendum later that year. In February, 1871, a second referendum did pass and work began within a month.

The Noble Brothers Foundry began producing sheets of iron 10 feet X 10 feet that were transported to "Tower Hill" by horse-drawn cart. Here the sheets were riveted together and tested. Scaffolding surrounded the tower, allow workmen to reach the top of the 65-foot tank. The 26-foot diameter tank was considered full at the 60-foot level.

Ben Yancey's parrot Polly adopted Tower Hill as her home during World War I. Polly was noted for such topical phrases as "Over the top and at the damned Germans, boys" and "Polly want a cracker, cracker, tobacco chew." She was also noted as occasionally uttering vulgarities but being good with the children that visited her regularly.

In 1960 the water tower was removed from the city's water system.

County: Floyd County

Rome's Clock Tower





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