Good Question: What happened to the Clock of Nations?

From 08/12/2019

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Where is it? That’s what a lot of you want to know about a piece of Rochester’s history.

You asked Pat Taney to find out what happened to the Clock of Nations for this week’s Good Question report. 

It was first a centerpiece at the old Midtown Plaza then the Greater Rochester International Airport. Today, it’s locked away in storage despite a push to bring it back to life.

“Meet me at the Clock of Nations” is something you may have said back in the day.

It was built for and placed in the old Midtown Plaza in the early 1960s. It was a big rotating clock with capsules containing puppets representing different nationalities living in Rochester.

“I see that clock, and I get excited,” said Louis Perticone, owner and founder of Artisan Works. “Nobody realizes two or three of those countries don’t even exist anymore.” 

After Midtown closed, the clock moved to the Greater Rochester International Airport and was displayed in the food court.

There were plans for it to go to the new and improved Golisano Children’s Hospital, but the hospital changed course and decided not to house it.

It was removed from the airport after renovations were completed in 2016.

“With the enhanced food court concession and expanded TSA Checkpoint improvements, additional space with adequate ceiling height to accommodate displaying the Clock of Nations is no longer an option,” said airport spokesperson Jennifer Hanrahan.

That’s when Perticone and Artisan Works stepped in.

“I’ve wanted it from the first day,” he said.

He wants to house the clock at Artisan Works off University Avenue.

“We are the only nonprofit art space in the country that completely funds itself,” Perticone said.

Artisan Works consists of several converted warehouses that store and display all sorts of pieces of history and art.

“We have American history as well as Rochester history,” Perticone said. “Just holding these things is very costly.”

Events that are hosted at Artisan Works help fund it all. Artisan Works also charges admission for tours on weekends.

In a recently purchased warehouse space, Perticone and his team have created ‘Bourbon Street’—a recreation of the famed street in New Orleans which serves as another room to hold weddings and events.

That’s where he wants to display the clock. Years ago, he offered to pay for the delivery and set up.

“I said, it gets donated for a dollar and we’ll take the responsibility of it.”

But that was denied.

“I think there was one person who said why wouldn’t we open it up and give it to someone where there wouldn’t be a fee to see it because there’s a fee to get into Artisan Works,” Perticone said.

The airport confirmed that statement when News10NBC contacted them about this story.

“Frank Haglenerg, a local attorney involved in the initial donation from the Midtown owners, informed airport attorneys that because Artisan Works charges admission and is not ‘open to the public,’ it was not an acceptable home for the Clock of Nations,” Hanrahan said.

“At the end of the day, that’s a joke delivering and setting it up. Do you know how many times they (county) have been moving it and setting it up? It’s just a never-ending circle,” Perticone said. “But this clock is important. It’s not just local history, it’s national and international history. It doesn’t belong in storage.”

And that’s exactly where it is. The clock has been disassembled and now sits in a storage space at the airport. When News10NBC requested to see it, the Monroe County Airport Authority told us we couldn’t.

“The Clock is secured in an airport building that is actively used for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) / Monroe County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) K9 Training,” Hanrahan said.

The Monroe County Airport Authority is open to other requests to house the clock, provided it will be displayed in a manner that is “open and free to the public.”

To date, the only request they’ve received is from Artisan Works.