By U.S. ArmyApril 5, 2019
The Clock Tower Building was the first permanent structure built on Rock Island Arsenal. Construction began in 1864 and ended in 1867. The building was used as a storehouse for the arsenal. It gets its name from the large clock that is on top of a tower standing 117 feet from the ground. Each clock face is 12 feet in diameter. It is the only clock of its type still running with its original parts. Since 1934, it has been the home of the Rock Island District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
On July 11, 1862, Congress established three new arsenals. One was to be at Columbus, Ohio; another in Indianapolis, Indiana; and another on federally owned land on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River. Storehouse A, known today as the Clock Tower Building, was the first building of the newly founded arsenal.
The building was constructed under the supervision of Major Charles Kingsbury, RIA's first commanding officer. He was given instructions on how the building was to be constructed, and information on the contracts associated with the building. The building material used was LeClaire limestone quarried from the nearby community.
Construction on Storehouse A began on April 12, 1864, when the cornerstone was cemented into place. Within the cornerstone was a time capsule; however, a search conducted in 1966 was unable to locate this cornerstone. The building plan included a 97-foot tall tower that housed a hoist serving three floors within the building.
The building was completed in 1867 under General Thomas J. Rodman. The tower was completed at a height of 117 feet, instead of the specified 97 feet, and housed a clock with four 12-foot faces. The clock works that were installed in 1868 remain in place and are still functioning today.
In 1934, the first Corps of Engineers offices were moved into the Clock Tower Building, with additional offices and property transferred in 1941. Today the building is entirely occupied by the Corps of Engineers.
Clock Tower Facts
Designer: Ordnance Department
Begun: April 12, 1864
Material: LeClaire Limestone
Length: 180 feet
Width: 60 feet
Height: 117 feet
Manufacturer: A. S. Hotchkiss
Begun: December 30, 1867
Face Diameter: 12 feet
Contract cost: $5,000