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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 2:42 am | Fair 44º


Time Stands Still for Renovation of Santa Barbara Courthouse Seth Thomas Clock

The historic tower will become a gallery of timekeeping, with the project expected to be complete by the end of the month

The conversion of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Clock Room into a gallery of time is nearly complete.

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 Clock.

The Seth Thomas Clock and clock room are visible to visitors of the courthouse when disembarking the elevator at the top of the observation tower. The project is the brainchild of Dr. David Bisno and Dick Schall, both of whom are funding the project.

The 80-plus-year-old mechanical double three-legged escapement clock will evolve with the installation of a 67-foot-long mural depicting the advancement of timekeeping through the centuries into the modern age.

“It is truly an honor to be involved in such an important project as bringing renewed life to one of America’s most important tower clocks,” Bisno said from his winter residence in New Hampshire.

He said it is very rare indeed for visitors to see up close the workings of mechanical tower clocks because almost all of them are hidden in dark attics. The Seth Thomas Tower Clock in the Santa Barbara Courthouse is fully accessible, even to those with disabilities — the only one of its kind in the United States.

The project is expected to be complete by the end of the month. It will be available to the public through tours guided by the Courthouse Docent Council.

— Robert Ooley represents the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation.

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