By WARREN SCOTT
The Weirton Daily Times
WELLS BURG, W.Va. — A focal point of Wellsburg City Hall was removed Tuesday in an effort to prevent damage to the building’s interior.
Crews with James White Construction of Weirton used a crane to remove the clock tower in sections after the structure was found to be the source of leaks into the building.
Among those watching from the town square below were City Manager Steve Maguschak and 1st Ward Councilman David Holden.
Holden had hoped the tower could be restored. But after seeing it up close, when it had been lowered to the ground, he said it appeared to be too far deteriorated.
Capped by a copper steeple, the tower consisted of a wood frame built around a cross-section of steel beams, labeled Bethlehem Steel, housing four clocks facing north, south, east and west.
A member of the Brooke County Museum board, he said he will instead seek grants to construct a new tower modeled on the original.
As he assessed the tower, he noted the clocks’ inner workings had been disconnected, possibly because they were considered a fire hazard. The steel boxes that encased them also contained fluorescent bulbs that once lit the clocks at night.
With the exception of one, which has a cracked face, the clocks appeared to be in good condition, Holden noted.
Imprinted on the steel boxes was the name U.S. Steel, while the year “1967”appeared to be scrawled nearby. Holden suggested that may have been when the clocks were added to the building, which was built in 1940.
Fourth Ward Councilman Charlie Harris said he has old photos of City Hall before the clocks were added. An internet search turned up illustrated postcards of City Hall and a tower without clocks.
Harris also lamented the tower’s removal, saying he still believes it could have been restored and opposed Wellsburg Council’s expenditure of $25,000 for the work for that reason.
But many on council raised concerns about damage to the building’s plaster walls from water entering the building.
The opening where the tower stood was covered Tuesday with a tarp, but a sturdy, wooden cover will be applied in the near future.
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