Cobb Hall Clock Is Working!

The clock has been fully restored to its original brilliance and helps keep everyone on time.

The ninety-four year old Cobb Hall clock was fully restored and reinstalled on the east elevation of Cobb Hall. The clock keeps accurate time for the first time in many years.  Restoration was orchestrated by FS Senior Manager Building Envelope & Campus Trades, Barry O’Quinn, who enjoys these types of restoration projects. 

The first phase began last fall by carefully removing the clock from Cobb Hall’s façade, crating and shipping it to a firm in New Jersey selected to undertake the process.  The restoration required over four months of work, beginning with a thorough inspection and evaluation of the clock mechanism and components by master clockmakers. The internal mechanism was completely rebuilt. The ironwork face of the clock was inspected and necessary repairs including repainting and gold leafing for the numerals was completed.  The clock was crated and shipped back to Chicago where O’Quinn managed the reinstallation. 

Before the repair, most people stopped noticing the broken antique clock on Cobb Hall’s façade since it had no functional purpose. In 2014, the famous University of Chicago scavenger hunt tie-breaker included the question, “According to the clock on Cobb Hall, what is the (perpetual) time?” Winning participants noted that the clock was perpetually stuck at 9:00. 

The history of the oldest clock on campus is very interesting. It begins with the renowned Chicago architectural firm Coolidge & Hodgdon who were working on campus on Swift Hall, Bond Chapel, and Abbot Laboratory at the time of the clock’s design. The architects chose the William J. Korber Company to complete the iron work and the International Time Recording Company to build the case and works. The total cost for the Cobb Hall clock was $625.

Here’s a great question for the next University of Chicago scavenger hunt – why is the number “24” placed in the 12:00 o’clock position? Answer – this number refers to the gifting class, not the hour. For more historical pictures of Cobb Hall or the clock, click here.



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