To help preserve, protect, and nurture the economic and cultural vitality of downtown Caldwell through the creation of public and private partnerships.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Case of the Missing Clock

On the corner of Bloomfield and Smull Avenues sits one of the architectural gems of downtown Caldwell. The present day Wachovia Bank building was constructed as "The Citizen's National Bank" in 1915, and was later expanded in 1926. This historic building is part of the identity of downtown Caldwell and is featured prominently in the mural (first and second images) that decorates the Caldwell Borough Council Chambers.

This building is remarkable for a number of reasons. Although the interior has been altered over the years, it remains the most spectacular and well preserved interior space in all of downtown Caldwell. Harking back to a time period when banks built stately edifices to convince a skeptical public of the stability of the banking industry and the security of their deposits, this incredible interior features two rows of imposing marble columns and an amazing stain glass ceiling.

Unfortunately, one of the most remarkable exterior features of this historic building is conspicuously absent. The ornate limestone clock that once graced the original front entrance has been apparently covered up for years, in it's place sits an awkward and unsightly concrete box (third and fourth images) that gives no clue to the architectural heritage that it crudely masks. It is reasonable to assume that the clock was covered up because it was in disrepair and was a expensive proposition to repair at the time.

About two months ago I walked past the missing clock and into the Wachovia Bank with the idea of convincing the bank to uncover and restore the missing clock. I explained to Michael Ricca, branch manager,  that I was sure there was a magnificent clock hidden beneath the the concrete box, and that uncovering it would be great thing for the bank to do for the community to help kick start the historic preservation efforts already underway. Not only was he receptive to the idea of uncovering the clock, he felt so strongly about the importance of Project Main Street's mission, that he voluntarily sponsored our application for a community grant through Wachovia Bank.

 Hopefully, one day soon, as you are sitting at the traffic light on the corner of Smull and Bloomfield Avenues, by chance you might glance out the car window and get a glimpse of a very special clock and realize what a rich architectural history we have here in Caldwell. If and when that day comes, we should all stop in and thank Michael Ricca and Wachovia Bank for caring about our community and helping to preserve our architectural heritage.

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