It's always 3 o'clock at Govans clock tower


March 27, 2007

THE PROBLEM -- A clock and carillon bells atop a memorial tower near York Road and Woodbourne Avenue in Govans have not worked for many years.

THE BACKSTORY -- Peg Massey of North Baltimore wrote Watchdog asking about the "lovely tower with bells & a clock in the center." She said the bells haven't rung and the clock hands haven't moved past 3 o'clock in many years.

"Perhaps," she wrote, "if it were put into working order it would be more meaningful to the neighbors."

Massey's question takes the Watchdog down memory lane. The tower is the Curran Memorial Bell Tower, dedicated to the late City Councilman J. Joseph Curran Sr., father of former Maryland Attorney General Councilman J. Joseph Curran Jr. and grandfather of District Judge Catherine Curran O'Malley, wife of Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Curran suffered a heart attack during a shooting in 1976 when a gunman entered a temporary City Hall headquarters on South Calvert Street, killed Councilman Dominic M. Leone Sr. and wounded another councilman and an aide to then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer. Curran died less than a year later.

The bell tower fell into disrepair after it was hit by lightning several years ago. It hasn't been fixed because there is no money available and there are plans to move the bells - but not the clock - to a prayer garden at Stadium Place on East 33rd Street.

The Currans, through the City Foundation of Baltimore, are raising money to make repairs and move the bells. Councilman Robert W. Curran, the elder Curran's son, said they are a few thousand dollars short of the $90,000 needed to complete the move and repairs.

"When I go by it, I'm saddened," Curran said. "But at the moment, there are more pressing issues on York Road than getting the clock working. In the fullness of time, the clock will be working again."

WHO CAN FIX THIS -- The clock and bells are privately held, but the small plot of land the tower sits on belongs to the city. Curran said the Baltimore Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining the grass and bushes.


A light rail crossing in Hunt Valley that lacks a gate has been inspected and deemed safe, said Sharon DeHaney, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transit Administration. Gates block traffic only on Beaver Dam Road. There is nothing to stop a motorist on Gilroy Road from turning onto the tracks.

MTA officials e-mailed Watchdog photographs of overhead signs that light up to warn motorists. DeHaney said yesterday that inspectors have revisited the intersection and decided everything is in working order. She said the signs are sufficient

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