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Hortense, the iconic clock atop Tampa City Hall, goes silent for repairs

TAMPA

Hortense, the iconic chiming clock atop Tampa City Hall, has gone silent.

But not for long.

The hands on the 96-year-old clock stopped at 2:10 a.m. Sept. 21, and now it awaits a new motor and custom-made gears.

The four-sided clock and its gears weigh more than a ton, but the motor that drives them could sit on your palm, city facility management superintendent Ray Herbert said.

Boyd Clocks, which also fixed the historic clock at the J.C. Newman Cigar Co. factory in Ybor City, is handling the $800 repair.

"It is quite a unique job," said David Boyd Jr., who has talked to city officials about completely restoring the clockwork.

The clock's nickname is a nod to long-ago Tampa socialite Hortense Oppenheimer Ford, the daughter of a doctor who raised money to buy the timepiece during City Hall's construction in 1915.

Hortense is expected to return to service by mid October. Her counterweights were replaced with an electric motor decades ago, but she retains many of her original parts and all of her charm.

"It's a marvel to look at the old engineering," facility management supervisor Lynn Lindsay said. "These days everything is digitally controlled, but you look at this and say, 'How did they do it?' "

Hortense, the iconic clock atop Tampa City Hall, goes silent for repairs 10/01/11 [Last modified: Monday, October 3, 2011 1:47pm]

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