Local company adds to Jersey skyline

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By The Staff

A 225-foot copper clock tower for the historic Hoboken Ferry Terminal in Hoboken, N.J., is finally being restored to its original place in the Hoboken skyline. The tower was fabricated in Kentucky by Campbellsville Industries, also called "The Steeple People."

Campbellsville Industries has 125 employees who have been fabricating steeples and towers for 53 years. Skilled artisans take copper sheet, aluminum and steel - and create replications of historic towers throughout the country. Phases I and II of the Hoboken clock tower have already been fabricated and installed on site. The final phase was assembled onsite in early April.

This last phase totaled 71 feet in height, which includes a 27-foot square gabled base to cap off the existing clock tier, an open "belfry" section sets on the gabled base, and both are topped off with a 30-foot decorative finial. The finial will have a double FFA-approved aviation light to warn passing aviation traffic of the return of the tower. All exterior cladding for the tower is fabricated from 20-ounce copper and is left in its natural mill finish to eventually age to a green patina to match the surrounding copper on the terminal building. Large decorative copper swags, 5'4" wide x 3'10" high will be applied to the gabled sides of the base in Phase III. The open area that will be screened with protective bird netting, surrounded by decorative copper columns and corrugated decorative copper panels copied from panels on the terminal building to replicate that which originally existed on the tower.

When asked if this was a unique tower for Campbellsville, Sales Manager David England replied, "We previously provided a 229-foot tower on a church in Huntsville, Ala., but that tower was more contemporary in design. The Hoboken clock tower is unique in that the decorative copper ornamentation makes this a historically one-of-a-kind tower. The decorative architectural elements are from another era. Old-world craftsmanship married with modern fabrication techniques and design standards, will help to pass on this architectural heritage to generations to come in this area."

The entire tower will be illuminated with a fiber optic lighting system, including 4-foot high copper letters spelling out the word "Lackawanna." The original ferry terminal and clock tower were built by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western railroad in 1907, and the tower was dismantled in 1950 after sustaining structural damage during a storm. The tower is being replicated using the same exterior cladding as in the previous tower, but the inner steel and aluminum structure of the new tower is engineered in accordance with current wind and building code requirements.

Campbellsville project engineer Hasan El-Amouri, who supervised the fabrication of the clock tower commented, "The tower will look exteriorly much like it did originally at the turn of the century. However, the main difference is what cannot be seen underneath the exterior cladding. The structural design of the steel and aluminum angle framework that supports the tower had to be designed with current building code requirements, which includes current wind load and seismic standards. Materials that would be a maintenance problem such as wood were not considered in the structural design of the tower."

The tower was disassembled for transportation and delivered to the jobsite in about eight separate loads. These sections were assembled on site.

Campbellsville Industries has been in the business of fabricating towers for 53 years and is the leader in this specialty field, having more than 16,000 installations scattered throughout the United States, Canada and at least six foreign countries. Campbellsville Industries pioneered the prefabricated church steeple and cupola and earned the nickname "The Steeple People." Trained installation crews log more than 500,000 road miles annually installing the company's architectural products across the country.