Removal of the Clock Hands on Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus

by Kevin Dalton

We recently worked on an interesting project at Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus in the Bronx.  Our mission: to remove the clock hands from four clock faces on the tower of Keating Hall and one clock atop LaLande Hall in Martyrs Court.

The hands were removed and turned over to The Verdin Company so they could be restored. Once restored, the hands will be re-installed. The project was coordinated by Bob Rush with Structure Tone, Inc.

The crenellated parapet at the top of the tower on Keating had bird protection on the top of the walls so we had to lower ropes through the crenels and climb up to the clock which was about a 150’ climb from the roof of the main building below.

The clock hands were pretty big; the hour hand was a little over 6’ long and the minute hand was over 7’ long. We rigged all the hands to lower before loosening any of the nuts or bolts that connected them to the shaft.

One of the minute hands was stuck and we had a really hard time removing it. It typically took us 30-45 minutes to remove both hands on each of three out of four faces but we spent over 3 hours on the southeast face on the first day trying to remove the minute hand without success. It was a little over 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) and the wind was blowing 15 – 20 mph directly into my face so I decided to accept defeat and go get warm before moving onto another set of hands. We came back to the southeast face the next day with a specialty tool provided by Dennis Lindo from The Verdin Company and after a few minutes the hand was free.

We finished up the second day at Martyrs Court which was only about 50’ off the ground but in an area that is difficult to access with a lift. Due to icy conditions on the roof we thought it safer to toss the ropes out to the face of the building and climb up from the ground. After almost 1,000’ of vertical climbing at Keating Hall 50’ was a walk in the park.

When I arrived at the clock face I had the minute hand off in a matter of minutes but the hour hand looked like it might take hours to remove. It was completely rusted onto the shaft and wouldn’t budge. Luckily the entire mechanism is being replaced so Dennis cut the shaft from the inside with a reciprocating saw. The white part of the clock  is just a thin piece of glass (probably 1/8” thick) so we had to saw very carefully. Fortunately we were able to keep the shaft off the glass and the hand came off without incident.

Everyday Preservationist Photo Contest | World Monuments Fund

World Monuments Fund invites you to vote for your favorite photo in our Everyday Preservationist Photo Contest.

The photos in this gallery were submitted by photographers of all levels to advocate for everyday preservation. World Monuments Fund sends preservation experts to endangered sites all over the world, but there are things we can do closer to home to help save the world’s most treasured places. Becoming an everyday preservationist is as easy as sharing something special about your hometown, a favorite vacation spot, or someplace you’ve always wanted to visit.

The contest will produce fifteen semi-finalists and five winners. You may vote once in each of five everyday preservation categories:

  • Appreciation
  • Adaptive Reuse
  • Sensitive Urban Development
  • Thoughtful Tourism
  • Traditional Building Materials


Photo Submission Period: July 1-31
Public Voting Period: July 1-August 15
Judging: August 16-September 1
Winners Announced: September 9

Contest Voting Gallery | World Monuments Fund

Photo submission (Title: Drawing Heritage. Category: Traditional Building Materials) by Berta de Miguel. Photo location: New York Edition (MetLife Building) New York, NY

Research in the tree tops of the giant sequoias of California

This July, Keith Luscinski (from the Vertical Access – Salt Lake City office) joined Rob Moore and Dave Katz from Cornell University’s Tree Climbing Institute, on a research trip to assist a team from  the University of California, Berkeley with an ongoing project of tracking and sampling seed cones from the canopies of the giant sequoia trees in California.

Giant sequoias are coniferous trees that can grow to over 300 feet in height and 50 feet in diameter, though their cones are only as large as a chicken egg. In previous years, large quantities of these cones were collected to stock California’s state seed bank and assess seed germination rates.  The current research, however, is a multiyear project that tracks the in-tree cones as they grow and age.  Each year, several cones are harvested from each tracked location.

While working on buildings, VA technicians often have the luxury of taking an elevator to the top floor.  In giant sequoias, a “quick” trip to the top of a previously unclimbed tree may take several hours.  More difficult trees can require 2 or 3 days of work before reaching the highest branches.  In these trees, the lowest branch may be 150 feet above the ground, ruling out the possibility of climbing from branch to branch like a kid.

A standard sequoia climber’s arsenal includes an 8-foot tall sling shot and a crossbow.  Mounted with fishing reels, these “line insertion” tools are used to place a strand of fishing line over one of the lower branches in the tree.   This line is used to pull up a small diameter cord, which in turn is used to pull up a 7/16-inch diameter nylon rope.  At the uppermost supporting branch of this rope, a tree climber may be less than halfway to the top of the tree.  Working from here, the climber will throw ropes over successively higher branches until reaching the top.

Before coming to Vertical Access, Keith found his way into the world of rope work through climbing trees.  Keith helped pioneer recreational tree climbing instruction with Cornell Outdoor Education while studying industrial engineering.  In 2006, he found that many of his skills transferred over to industrial rope access, but most of his equipment did not.  Vertical Access uses hardware, harnesses and rope systems that are intended for heavy use in an industrial environment.  On top of that, VA technicians are always supported by two ropes for redundancy purposes, whereas tree climbers rarely have two attachment points.

Photos by:
David Katz
Robert Moore

Return to the NJ State House Dome

VA returned to the New Jersey State House dome for a condition survey with H2L2 Architects and Preservation Design Partnership on a sunny, but cold, day in March – 17 years after our first inspection with Jan Hird Pokorny Associates prior to the restoration of the dome.

A Visit to Canning Studios

by Kelly Streeter

I had the opportunity to visit John Canning Painting, Plastering and Conservation Studios in Cheshire, CT last week. Bill Barry, John Riccio and I met to discuss the application and customization of the TPAS software to the types of plaster surveys they routinely do. While there, I was able to tour the studio and get a sneak peak at the murals they are designing and executing for the Cathedral of St. Patrick in Norwich, CT. What a treat.

Berta’s World Travel Journal

by Berta de Miguel

I am back in the New York City office after 5 months traveling. In April I flew to Spain, where I spent some weeks visiting family and traveling through ancient cities such Avila, Salamanca or Ciudad Rodrigo in my way to Portugal, a country that I love for several reasons, being its wonderful people and their amazing food two of the main ones. Also, the cultural and architectural heritage of the country is awesome and kept as a secret treasure … Coimbra, Santa Maria da Feira, Aveiro, Porto … are amazing cities that I never get tired of visiting. There, you can close your eyes and feel transported to the old times at the same time that you enjoy a wonderful Porto wine hearing fado music and eating a plate of breathtaking bacalhau al bras (a dish with cod, potatoes, eggs and black olives).


I reentered Spain through Galicia, from where I headed to León; I spent some days visiting Leon city and its Gothic Cathedral: a thirteen century temple, also called The House of Light. It was built on the site of previous Roman baths of the 2nd century which, 800 years later, King Ordoño II converted into a palace. I also had the chance to visit Logroño and its gothic-baroque Cathedral, recently beautifully renovated. If you go to Logroño, you can’t miss Laurel Street with its Rioja wine, mosto and tapas, another well kept secret from the north of Spain.

Before the arrival of the summer I flew to Thailand and traveled through the north visiting ancient villages such as Sukotai. From Chang Mai I crossed the border with Laos by boat and arrived in Luang Prabang. The city was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name. Until the communist takeover in 1975, it was the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main part of the city consists of four principal roads located on a peninsula between the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers. The city is well known for its numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries. Every morning, hundreds of monks from the various monasteries walk through the streets collecting alms. From there, we took a boat upstream the Mekong River and then the Ou River, with the aim of arriving to Nong Kiao and Mon Ngoy, small villages nested in the middle of tropical forested mountains, the later with no electricity nor road traffic. I contacted some masons and craftsmen of the area with the purpose of understanding the vernacular traditional architecture based in wood, straw and ceramics.

After one week in Lao, I flew back to Bangkok in order to take a flight to Myanmar, the most amazing country I have ever visited. My travel through Myanmar started in Yangoon, the capital, with its rich colonial architecture, its street vendors and its life; everything surrounded with warm decay. After some days I headed to Bagan; from the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the highest time of kingdom, between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 13000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2230 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.

I had the chance to visit some restoration sites and learn the techniques of restoration, which are no much different from the techniques used years ago. The two basic materials used are brick and mortar. I also visited the second largest city in the country, Mandalay, and the area of the Inke Lake, an otherworldly place with its floating markets, fishermen, villages and gardens; a society on the water. Then I directed my steps to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with its world known Petronas Towers. The mix of tradition and different cultures makes KL and its architecture a very interesting city worth of visiting. Aside of Kuala Lumpur I crossed all the west coast of the peninsula from north to south stopping in the islands of Perenthian, Kappas and Tioman, before entering to Singapore.  Singapore is a city where the most futuristic buildings and the vastest extension of shopping malls I have ever seen merge with the east Asia tradition such as churches, hawkers (food courts), pagodas, Hindu temples, and mosques.

Once back in Europe I took a break in Spain with my family and then I traveled trough the west coast of France, where you could taste the wonderful French food, enjoy nature, middle age villages, sea and excellent climbing. Bourdeaux, Pays de la Loire, La Bretagne, Normandie, Saint Emilion, Paris… but the most striking place was, without doubt, Le Mont Saint-Michel, MtStMichelan island full filled of middle age buildings with the castle-church crowning the top of the mountain. The island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times, and since the 8th century AD been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. The Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Years ago you could not reach the island but in low tide, even though it was very dangerous because of the quicksand surrounding the area. That is the reason why this place was so difficult to assault.

Among the numerous historical sites I have discovered I would highlight Yangon, the magic of Shwedagon pagoda and the temples of Bagan in Myanmar, University of Coimbra, Oporto city center and Mont Saint-Michel. The best part without doubt has been sharing my trips, time and life with family and friends.

Since I came back to New York and returning to Vertical Access I have had the chance to participate in very interesting and challenging projects such as the former MetLife Tower on Madison Square, the Ritz tower in New York, and the Robert C. Weaver Federal Building in Washington DC, among others. I am very happy to be back and share what I have learned.