Historic Tampa Clock Commemorating World War II Heroes Chimes Again

by Michael Abdoney - 03/02/2024 -Tampa

Hillsborough High School's clock was dedicated on June 3, 1949, to honor alumni killed in World War II. At the entrance to the 110-foot Memorial Clock Tower there is a plaque bearing the names of 139 alumni who perished fighting against fascism in World War II.

For decades, students attending the Tampa, Florida school remembered the bravery of their fallen comrades every time the clock chimed. The students always turned to face the clocktower when they sang their alma mater.

Unfortunately, the clock began to show signs of disrepair over a decade ago. It stopped keeping time properly, and then its bells and chimes fell silent.


Three graduates of the school, Darlene Fabel, Janice Vogt, and Daniel Vallejo, the self-proclaimed “Three Clocketeers,” organized a fundraising effort and collected the required $50,000 to have the clock repaired.

The iconic clock was repaired and rededicated on February 24, 2024. The renovated clock now keeps perfect time and uses a digital bell and chime system to announce the hours between noon and six p.m. The school district decided to keep the clock silent in the mornings and evenings to avoid disturbing the neighborhood. In addition to retrofitting the clock, the clock tower now boasts actual stairs instead of a rickety ladder.

However, the upgrade is not complete. The commemorative plaque should have 143 names. The Three Clocketeers are working on getting a nameplate listing the remaining four names added to the plaque.

Approximately 3000 native Floridians died fighting in World War II, including the 143 alumni from Hillsborough High School. Soldiers drafted to fight in World War II ranged in age from age 18 to 45, and an estimated 16 million US citizens served in various capacities during the war. One in forty died during their service in World War II.

Historic school

Hillsborough High School is one of the oldest public schools in the southern US. It was housed in a wooden building constructed in 1876 and was originally called Tampa School #1. The first high school course was introduced in the school in 1882, followed by the graduation of its first class of four students in 1886. It has proudly educated successive classes of students ever since. Currently, the school has around 2000 students enrolled in grades 9 through 12.

Iconic clock

The building currently housing the school was constructed in 1928, and the design included a clock tower. However, the school district ran out of money, and the clock tower had no clock until 1949.

The local community raised money to add the original clock as a way to remember their fallen war heroes. Old movies show hundreds of people attending the original dedication ceremony. A band played and two boys, twin sons of one of the fallen soldiers who never knew their father, unveiled the commemorative plaque. The clock and clocktower rapidly became a symbol of pride and unity for the school's students and the local community.