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The Clock Tower

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Mar 31, 2014 6:53:00 PM


Some things are worth preserving. Books. Symphonies. Great Buildings. In times like these, when civil discourse is rare, when reality television portrays us at our worst, things of beauty from our past can sometimes provide a little rationale for the continuance of the human species. 

That may sound a bit high-minded, but it’s as good an explanation as any for why this brick tower in New Orleans has been brought back to life.

When Bill Batherson and his wife moved into a converted condo in the old warehouse attached to the Tower, he felt himself drawn to its ghostly interior. Long-neglected, it seemed to speak to him.

“I loved it the first time I saw it,” recalls Batherson. “It just had a sense of safety and serenity. Spaces affect your mood, your sense of well being. There’s a certain energy you can’t really explain.”

Without that emotional bond, it’s likely the Clock Tower would never have been restored. Instead, six years of sandblasting, hand-carving, engineering, design and redesign went into this reborn building. 
 “The whole concept was to save all of the old stuff,” Batherson explains. “To reuse everything we could—to marry the old form with contemporary.”

For more detail on this project, please visit our Magazine Archive, and view our February 2012 issue.

  • Rising several stories above the flat roofs of New Orleans’ Warehouse District, this historic brick tower abuts converted condo units. It has a new Vermont slate roof, super-efficient windows and an elevator, yet retains— and  even improves on—its classic facade.

  • To keep the ceiling of this kitchen space as high as possible, Batherson and Green Builder's Ron Jones created a framework of 4” steel tubes, then ran in Unico small-diameter piping  for the air conditioning.

  • See those horizontal vents overhead, just below the loft railing? Those are the silent A/C outlets. Each of those massive windows had to be completely rebuilt or replaced.

  • One of two stainless steel spiral staircases, this one ascends directly into the Tower. It’s surrounded by custom woodwork made by a Ukrainian master carpenter. He used locally salvaged and recycled lumber throughout the project.

  • The lower-level entry doors, below the Clock Tower, were one of the last major woodworking projects. Batherson says he met with resistance from the condo association, but they eventully let him add this grand entryway of recycled cypress. Almost all of the glass, he notes, is original.

  • This view up through the Tower’s glass doors shows how the triple-laminated, walkable glass opens up the space with ample daylight. The elevator (from Winter Elevators) has customized stainless steel and wood detailing, to make it fit with the Tower architecture.

  • The exposed beams in the top floor of the Tower (now a bedroom), required many hours of intense restoration work, including sanding, scraping, epoxy  and steel reinforcement. But they’re all original.

  • In lieu of a clock, the Tower now has custom round windows with heavy cypress muntins. The custom curved bar does double duty as a safety rail for the spiral staircases

  • What can you say about this view of downtown New Orleans? Priceless. This outdoor patio includes weather-durable Danvers cabinetry. The floor consists of shellstone pavers that “float” on plastic pedestals.

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