Bells chimed from the Montgomery County Courthouse clock tower Sunday for the first time since World War II. County officials held a dedication ceremony for the tower, hailing it as the focal point of the community.
Residents – who haven’t seen a tower atop the courthouse in more than 70 years – braved scorching heat and lined the streets of Crawfordsville to see its dedication.
The first tower was taken down in the 1940s after a painter discovered it was leaning toward the street. Its bell was melted down to make ammunition for the war effort.
Clock Tower Committee President Sandy Lofland-Brown spearheaded the movement to replace the tower. She says it was largely a grassroots movement, as they didn’t receive any giant donations.
“When we talked to people, a lot of times early on, they said, ‘You’re never going to do that. That’s a pipe dream.’ And I said, ‘No, that is not a pipe dream. We are going to do it,’” Lofland-Brown says. “So the best word I can say is: I feel fulfilled.”
Lofland-Brown says the man after whom the tower is named – local doctor James Marion Kirtley – was like a father to her. The late doctor and World War II veteran’s dying wish was that the tower be rebuilt.
His son David Kirtley was emotional during the ceremony. He says he’s sure his father was smiling down proudly at the dedication.
“He’d say he was elated, he was proud and God bless it,” Kirtley says.
Organizers still need to raise another $30,000 to pay off the loan which financed the construction. Overall, the project took two decades and more than half a million dollars to complete.