Montgomery County Courthouse prepping for new clock tower

CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind. - The top of the courthouse has sat empty for the better part of a century. That is expected to change next month when a new clock tower arrives in town, ready to be placed in its permanent home.

The courthouse had a clock tower when it was constructed in 1876, but in 1941, concerns about the clock tower falling over caused officials to have it taken down.

According to Sandra Lofland Brown, the president of the Montgomery County Historical Society Tower Fund Committee, a painter was painting the courthouse and thought the clock tower was leaning. Back then there was no time or money to look into the issue and once the clock tower came down it was dismantled for parts. The bell itself was melted and turned into ammunition for the war.

Brown, along with a dedicated team, has raised nearly $500,000 to get a new clock tower for the community.

“I thought it is really going to happen," Brown said. "I have had some physical problems and have wondered if I would live long enough to see the tower come up myself.”

Money has come in from all kinds of places, including businesses, residents and former residents of the county.

Indiana Landmarks pledged $75,000 to the clock tower with a combined $70,000 commitment from the City of Crawfordsville and Montgomery County. Both governments put $35,000 toward the project.

Brown's work was part of a commitment to former state senator Dr. Marion Kirtley.

“The night before he passed away, he took my hand and made me promise that I would finish the clock tower," Brown said.

Brown's promise will be filled next month when the 68-foot clock tower arrives in three pieces. It's still being constructed right now at Campbellsville Industries.

In February, the first steps to bring in the clock tower took place. Steel beams have been placed around the area where the clock tower will go to ensure the courthouse can support the additional weight.

An event is being planned for the community when the clock tower is set in place.

Montgomery County Commissioner Phil Bane said the new sight will be a welcomed attraction to the community. He became a supporter of the project after comparing old pictures to the look of the courthouse now.

“The courthouse just looked naked," said Bane. "After looking at the old pictures with the tower out 60 or 70 feet into the air, you can really tell the majesty it used to have was missing for the past 70 plus years.”