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Posted on March 29, 2012 | 11:56 p.m.

Tower Clock to Ring Santa Barbara Courthouse Bells for First Time

Visitors and residents near the courthouse on Friday may hear bells tolling from the observation tower at odd times

Source: Rodney Baker for the Santa Barbara Courthouse

With the nearing completion of the Bisno Schall Clock Gallery, the Seth Thomas Tower Clock at the Santa Barbara Courthouse will ring the courthouse bells for the first time ever.

Over the course of the day Friday, visitors and residents within a few blocks of the courthouse may hear bells tolling from the observation tower at odd times. No, you are not just hearing things.

The Clock Team will be testing the new bell system that will be activated every quarter-hour by the Seth Thomas Tower Clock. In the past, the tower bells have been generated by an electronic carillon system that was not connected to the actual clock. So oftentimes when the chimes would play, it would not match the time on clock dial.

All of that has been solved by Bryan Mumford of Mumford MicroSystems, who has been volunteering his time to work on the new electronic system for the Santa Barbara Courthouse Clock. Mumford has obtained the bell sounds from the UCSB Storke Tower carillon system with the help of acoustical engineers at UCSB. Magnetic micro switches have been custom made and installed on the Seth Thomas Tower Clock that when triggered at the appropriate time, will instruct the electronics which bell sound to play and in what sequence.

The conversion of the Santa Barbara Courthouse Clock Room into a gallery of time is nearly completion. The project has been funded entirely by donations from two Santa Barbara families whose interest in timekeeping has motivated their yearlong restoration of the Santa Barbara Courthouse Seth Thomas Tower.

The project is expected to be completed next month. It will be available to the public through tours guided by the Courthouse Docent Council by this summer.

Click here for more information.

— Rodney Baker represents the Santa Barbara Courthouse.

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