Kentucky Floral Clock Turning 50

Frankfort, KY – Kentucky's Floral Clock is turning 50 and first lady Jane Beshear is hosting a party to celebrate.

The clock, which is located on the west end of the Capitol grounds, has become a Kentucky landmark. It is one of six clocks in the world that keeps time while suspended above a pool of water.

Beshear told The State Journal of Frankfort that the party on May 4 will begin with a ceremony at the clock but will also showcase changes to the rose garden at the east end of the Capitol grounds.

The clock, which got a facelift from landscape artist Jon Carloftis, will get its hands painted gold in preparation for the celebration.

Gov. Bert Combs came up with the idea for the clock in 1961.

"He had returned from a trip to Niagara Falls and had been captivated by a clock on the Ontario side of the falls," Beshear said. "He appropriated $50,000 from the governor's contingency fund to construct the clock on the lawn on the state capitol, thinking it would be an excellent addition to the grounds as well as a tourist destination."

David Buchta, director of Historic Properties, said the clock was heralded at the time as not only the second in the world with a floral design, but also the biggest.

There aren't any figures documenting how many people visit the clock each year, but it seems to captivate young and old alike.

"I've seen many young people in their prom attire posing in front of the clock and even a couple of weddings," Beshear said.

The clock was designed by Frankfort architect Bill Livingston.

Neither Livingston nor Combs is still living, but Beshear said daughters of both men would attend the ceremony next month.

The rose garden, which was formed on the east end of the grounds to balance the clock on the west end, will also be recognized.

Beshear said it became the project of the state garden clubs in 1961 and has been upgraded recently with a new design, concrete walkways and boxwood bushes.

Beshear said everything about the garden project has been donated.

"It is so important that we preserve the beauty of our grounds that draws so many visitors to our campus, but do it without state funds," she said. "Not one dime of taxpayer money has gone into upgrading the garden."