- Associated Press - Monday, January 5, 2015

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) - Moscow First United Methodist Church on Third Street across from the high school has been devoting great effort to improving its tower clock this year.

Tom Crossler has been the church’s timekeeper for 33 years. Also a church board member and director of its Bell Choir, he oils the clock parts and conducts routine maintenance, such as resetting it twice a year for the beginning and end of daylight saving time.

But the big repairs on the clock and the inside of the tower were contracted out to Emo Construction LLC in Deary and Abbott General Construction Inc. in Troy. They replaced the rings that surround the clock, replaced malfunctioning gears and painted and rebuilt the louvers in the belfry.

The two remaining original glass clock faces were replaced with plastic ones. Crossler said people had shot numerous bullets through them over the years. And they had stopped working several months earlier.

Most of the pieces being replaced are part of the original Seth Thomas clock, installed in the early years of the 20th century.

A bell that is supposed to mark each hour hasn’t been operating for months. It should be ringing again in the near future.

There was a period when the bell sounding at the top of the hour bothered some people near the church, according to a story in the Daily News in 2002 detailing a 20-year silence from the mid-1960s until the mid-1980s.

The clock initially needed to be wound to tell the time. It was converted to an electric system many years ago, perhaps in the 1920s or ‘30s, Crossler said.

Structurally the clock tower is “as stout as it ever was,” he said. “We’re trying to make it look restored.”

It was re-roofed 20 years ago.

One of Moscow’s historic structures, the church and clock tower were placed on the list of National Historic Places in 1978. City officials, recognizing how iconic the clock tower was, made it Moscow’s official symbol nearly 40 years ago.

The Methodists had parishioners in Moscow as early as December 1876, which makes it the oldest, continuous church congregation on the Palouse. The church’s earlier location was a wood building at the corner of Sixth and Jefferson streets.

In 2002, the church celebrated the centennial of construction beginning on the stone church. Its basalt rock was mined from Paradise Ridge, and the work, at a cost of $35,000, was completed about two years later, according to the congregation’s web site, https://moscowfirstumc.org/.

Leading up to the centennial, the sanctuary was modernized and the wood ceiling scrubbed so it looked more like when it was first built. A new kitchen and ground level meeting space were also built as part of a five-year spate of restoration projects completed for the celebration.

There were other major additions to the church over the years as its congregation expanded. The church “always has been kept up” through diligent maintenance and remodeling, Crossler said.

It has plans for plenty more projects to keep its historic building in good shape. The street sign along Third Street was replaced this past summer as well.

Some nearby Methodist church buildings weren’t so blessed. Many of the area’s Methodist churches ended up needing to be rebuilt or were sold, he said.

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Information from: The Moscow-Pullman Daily News, https://www.dnews.com

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