The Clock Tower

With the boating season just around the corner, we decided to introduce a feature column highlighting many interesting things and places around our Lake.   For example, about ¾’s of the way down the Lake’s North Shore, you have likely seen, and probably “marked” time using, the giant clock so clearly visible from the water.  This clock was originally cast in Belgium in 1888 and was brought to Chicago for the Columbian Exposition of 1893.  After the Exposition, it was purchased by Edward Tilden.  He had the clock separated into 3 pieces, put on a flatbed railroad car, and shipped from Chicago to Delavan where it was finally erected at a point near Assembly Park.  There it stood for almost 100 years until Bob Betzer decided to purchase, refurbish, and relocate it. When asked why, Bob explains, “It was a landmark, and I always thought it had extraordinary potential.”

However, rebuilding the clock was not simple task.  It was originally designed as a water clock, which ran on power generated from waves.  It was, Bob points out, “an engineering wonder and cutting edge technology at that time”.  As you cruise the Lake this summer, you may want to stop and take a closer look at the clock. The magnificent stained glass inserts extending along the sides of the tower depict beautifully executed carvings of Greek Gods. Therefore, fittingly, Neptune, 
Zeus, Aphrodite, and Athena  look out onto and watch over the lake.  Betzer says rebuilding the 7,000 pound, 22 foot high clock was a difficult and demanding task, but was “truly a labor of love”. He began by sandblasting the metal, revealing its original patina.  He then painstakingly reconstructed the stained glass panels and completely rebuilt the clock’s “works”.

When asked why he chose to invest so much time, energy and money to preserve the clock, Betzer stated “It’s a first class historical marker and something that Delavan Lake has that is truly special” and added “Now it’s for everyone to enjoy!”

So on your next trip ‘round the Lake, take a moment to look at the clock for something other than the right time and appreciate the clock’s rich history and real beauty.  You may also want to consider offering a “thank you” to Mr. Betzer for his dedication to preserving Delavan’s rich heritage!

Dan Lemanski
(Permission from Keefe Realty for use of information in article by Sara Goodman, Town & Country magazine)