Spot A Clock: Church of the Gesu, Marquette University

This month’s ‘Spot a Clock’ is the Church of the Gesu, located on the Marquette University campus at 1145 West Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee.

The church structure was designed by H.C. Koch, the architect who designed City Hall and other prominent Milwaukee buildings. Construction started in 1893, and was completed in 1894.Marquette Gesu Church exterior

The church was designed in the Gothic Revival style. The main façade consists of two towers of differing heights. The west tower, which contains the belfry and clock, is the taller of the two towers at 260 feet.

The original clock movement was a Seth Thomas No. 16 movement, striking on the hour and half-hour. According to the Seth Thomas production records available through the NAWCC Library, the movement was manufactured with a gravity escapement and 1-1/2 second compensated pendulum. The movement was wound automatically using electric motors. Interestingly, the production records indicate the movement was manufactured in 1916, 22 years after the church was constructed. A 1908 photo-graph depicts the church without a clock.

The church has undergone several renovations. The original movement was removed at some unknown time and replaced with an electrical movement. Based on a 1948 Milwaukee Journal article, the clock dials were replaced that year. Most recently, an extensive restoration project was completed in 2012. According to a University representative, the following work was completed:

  • Removed and restored the four 8-foot dials.
  • Fabricated and installed new stainless steel clock hands, utilizing the existing hands as templates.
  • Installed four new no maintenance dial gears and protective stainless steel tubes.
  • Installed a four-way no-maintenance slave drive unit for the four-faced clock, connected to universal joints and shafts complete with shafts and universal joints to connect to dial gears.
  • Installed one steeple clock control master clock with GPS time control with automatic steeple clocks reset after power failure and change automatically for day light saving time.
  • Installed high output lighting inside the steeple to illuminate the four dials from the inside.

If you would like to suggest a clock for the newsletter’s ‘Spot a Clock’, please contact Ed Buc at the Chapter meetings.