Make your mark on Lenoir’s new clock tower

LENOIR, NC (July 12, 2023) ⇒ The City of Lenoir has the design for a new clock tower that will hold City’s historic downtown clock. The community is invited to add their artistic touch to the project.

Last fall, the city had to demolish the old clock tower on the square in Downtown Lenoir. Sections of the façade were cracking and pulling away from the brick underneath and the structure was weakening. After removing the structure, staff stored the clock for safekeeping.

After the old tower came down, Main Street Director Kaylynn Horn and other City staff started exploring options to build something new to hold the city clock. 

Lenoir and Caldwell County are home to more than 80 pieces of publicly displayed sculpture, and the Western North Carolina Sculpture Center (WNCSC) is just up the road from the city. Director Horn thought it would be worth reaching out to the WNCSC staff to see if they would be interested in helping with the project.

“We wanted something that would speak to our love for outdoor sculpture,” Director Horn said. “We wanted a piece that was unique, something that would showcase the clock and capture our creative spirit.”

Horn spoke with WNCSC Executive Director Joe Bigley about the project, and they started brainstorming ideas. They talked about the historic city clock, public art and sculpture, and the community. 

Bigley took those discussions and designed a piece titled “Time Well Spent.”

“Time Well Spent” will hold the city’s historic clock in Downtown Lenoir.
The city clock stood at the corner of Main Street and West Avenue outside of City Hall.
The clock was made by O.B. McClintock Co. in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The clock face features a unique, iconic number font that was used on O.B. McClintock clocks. The clock face is made of white and green stained glass and is designed to be lit from within.

“Time Well Spent” will be a 25-foot tall, three-column sculpture that will support the historic City clock. Most of the sculpture will be made of weathering steel, but there will be touches of stained glass and lighting. More importantly, there will be space on the piece for 224 cast-iron tiles that will be created by the public.

“One of the most intriguing aspects of this project is that the community is being invited to take part in the design and creation of this sculpture,” Bigley said. “Hundreds of people can create cast iron tiles that will be a permanent part of this sculpture and enjoyed for decades.”

There are two sizes of tiles that are available to buy – 8 inches square, and 14 inches square. The 8-inch tiles are $75.00, and the 14-inch tiles are $100.00. The smaller tiles will be placed on each side of the three columns that support the tower. The larger tiles will be placed at the top of the sculpture.

Everyone who purchases a tile will have to attend a workshop where they will create the scratch mold for their tile. The workshops will be up to three hours long and will be held on Saturdays at Mulberry Recreation Center. There is plenty of parking and the center is ADA accessible. The workshops will be held Aug. 5, 12, 19, and 26, and Sept. 2, 16, and 23, from 9:00 am to noon or noon to 3:00 pm.

Bigley and WNCSC staff will pour the tiles during the Wood, Fire, Smoke Festival happening later this year in Downtown Lenoir. The festival is a free event, and the public will be able to watch the iron pour during the festival.

Staff with WNCSC pour molten iron into scratch molds during the Wood, Fire, Smoke Festival held on Oct. 8, 2022, in Downtown Lenoir.

The sculpture is being funded by a $50,000 private donation to WNCSC and Bigley is raising funds to help pay for around 30 tiles for local youth who may not be able to take part otherwise.

“We are very grateful for this generous gift to make this project happen,” Bigley said. “Also, WNCSC is actively seeking sponsors to contribute so that underserved children will have a chance to take part in this exciting opportunity.”

WNCSC will setup an information tent at the clock tower location during the N.C. Blackberry festival this weekend, July 14 and 15, 2023. Staff will be available to talk about the sculpture and what will happen during the workshops. The public will also be able to buy a tile at their booth.

To buy or donate a tile for “Time Well Spent,” stop by the WNCSC booth at the N.C. Blackberry Festival, or click the following link, Time Well Spent Clock Tower Sculpture Workshops.

Mayor Joe Gibbons said the project illustrates the spirit of Downtown Lenoir and the community as a whole. 

“‘Together We Create’ is the slogan for Downtown Lenoir, and the clock tower project will allow members of the community to create this sculpture together,” Mayor Gibbons said. “Anyone who wants to be part of the project can buy a tile and create something with the city, WNCSC, and with each other. Hopefully, this new clock tower sculpture will stand for another 100 years in Downtown Lenoir.”

Director Horn said “Time Well Spent” is a wonderful name for the sculpture, because that’s what happens every day in Downtown Lenoir.

“We see all kinds of people building a stronger community, nurturing thriving businesses, and renovating our historic buildings in Downtown Lenoir,” Director Horn said. “We see people giving their valued time to others and helping the city grow and prosper. We look forward to those people and many others making their lasting impression as we create this incredible sculpture together. This project is definitely time well spent for the City and I believe it will be time well spent for everyone who can join in.”

Bigley hopes to have the sculpture finished by the spring of next year. Once complete, the sculpture will be installed on corner of Main Street and West Avenue where the old clock tower stood outside of City Hall.

About the Western North Carolina Sculpture Center

WNCSC is a community-based 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization offering exciting creative hands-on learning experiences. WNCSC is home to a free sculpture park that is open every day from dawn to dusk. The park, which features almost 80 sculptures, is located on the Historic Patterson School Campus at 4612 Patterson School Dr., Lenoir, NC 28645. For more information about WNCSC, click the following link,

Support the Caldwell Journal for as little as $1 a month through Patreon. Thank you!