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I.T. Verdin: Pioneer and Innovator

I.T. Verdin is posthumously inducted into the Greater Cincinnati Business Hall of Fame

Innes Theophilus (I.T.) Verdin was born into a Cincinnati family that was already established in the clock making and bell repair business. It was I.T.'s vision and innovation that would propel The Verdin Company into national prominence.

Born in 1874, I.T. learned the clock manufacturing trade and the repair of clocks and bells alongside his father, Alois Nicholas Verdin, a respected inventor and master mechanic in the clock business. The Verdin family arrived in the Cincinnati area from France in 1837. Francis de Sales Verdin, Alois' father, and an uncle had immediately established a tower clock business in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, where their first documented installation was a clock at Old St. Mary's Church in 1842.

It would be I.T. who brought automation to bell ringing in 1927. Prior to his inventive break through, American bells were rung by hand — pulling on a rope, as had been done for centuries.

With I.T.’s automatic bell ringer, individual bells could be fitted with ringing and swinging machinery and a timer that would allow the bell to be rung on a schedule. While the equipment to do this was rather large at first, it was still a time and labor saving device that changed the industry and created a whole new business for the Verdin Company. Today, digital controllers and self-contained ringers have simplified the installations; however, a Verdin automatic electric bell ringer works essentially as it did in1927 when the I.T. Verdin Company became a private corporation. The bell and clock business established three generations earlier by their immigrant grandfather continued and grew.

After 1936, when I.T. Verdin died, his sons - and their sons would expand nationally, changing from a local Cincinnati company to one with a national sales force and international recognition — selling bells, carillons, and clocks to churches, universities, municipalities, non-profits, and businesses.

Today the original clock installed at Old St. Mary's Church back in 1842 is the centerpiece of the Verdin clock and bell museum in downtown Cincinnati.


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