Celebration marks completion of City Hall/Courthouse clock renovation

Hennepin County and City leaders dedicated the newly restored Minneapolis City Hall/Hennepin County Courthouse clock Monday night and lit the clock faces.

As part of the roughly $2.1 million restoration project, the white clock faces were replaced with glass similar to what the clock had when first built more than a century ago. The clock’s steel framing has been replaced with cast aluminum and neon lighting replaced with historically accurate backlighting. Other critical repairs were made to the clock in addition to the historic preservation work.

The clock faces measure 24 feet 4 inches in diameter — making it the largest, four-faced chiming clock in the world. Pieces of the old ceramic clock faces are also available for interested artists.

The clock tower bells also played after the ceremonial lighting of the clock. The 15-bell set plays every hour, quarter and half-hour. The bells weigh from 300 to 7,300 pounds each.

Clock facts:

  • At 345 feet (400 at the tip of the flagstaff), the clock tower made the City Hall/Courthouse building the tallest structure in Minneapolis until the Foshay Tower was built in the 1920s.
  • The clock faces measure 24 feet 4 inches in diameter, making it the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world.
  • Each minute hand is more than 14 feet long. It was once calculated that the minute hand travels 110 miles each year.
  • A new set of metal clock faces with neon lighting were installed when the original backlit glass faces started to crack in 1949.
  • The restored clock features roughly 11,000 pieces in each of the four clock faces.

The Municipal Building Commission has served as the steward for the historic City Hall/Courthouse building since 1904. Free tours are available every third Wednesday of the month at noon. For more information, visit www.municipalbuildingcommission.org.