Jun 06, 2005 - (Berne, IN 6/6/05)

Clock Tower

By Eric Olsen

June 18, 2010 Updated Jun 12, 2007 at 6:26 AM EDT

There's a project underway that will definitely change the face of 21Country.
It is a change that will be impossible to miss.

Travelers to Europe recognize this...the 500-year-old clock tower in the center of Berne, Switzerland.

As recognizible as the Matterhorn, and this historic town's American cousin thinks it might like to have one just like it.

David Baumgartner, with the Commercial Development Corporation says, "It will connect the two marketplaces in Berne...downtown and along US 27.

Movers and shakers in Berne, Indiana have big plans for this corner of their town...the intersection of US 27 and Main Street, in the shadow of Berne's historic Mennonite church.

This is where they envision Muensterberg Plaza, a several acre park area with brick walks, rose gardens, statues and fountains...and right in the middle, a massive recreation of the ancient clocktower that put their Swiss sister city on the map.

The design hasn't been finalized, but the tower will stand somewhere between eight stories and sixteen stories tall, visible for many miles around.

Roger Muselman with the Commercial Development Corporation says, "It is going to change the look of Berne. It is going to change it forever. It is an invaluable improvement to this city."

Supporters of the project say Muensterberg Plaza represents the Swiss values Berne's founding fathers brought with them from Europe...faith, integrity, hard work.

The clocktower and park will enshrine those values and, of course, bring a little business to Berne.

Baumgartner says, "Swiss Heritage Village will gain from this. All of our merchants will gain from this. I think we'll have new restaurants, new retail establishments that will sprout up."

Groundbreaking could come as soon as 2007.

Cost estimates hover around three million dollars for the plaza, all paid for through private donations.

Backers say the project is worth it.

They say it will will encourage other businesses in town to adopt the Swiss theme in their facades, turning Berne into a bona fide tourist destination.

The clocktower will certainly be among the most impressive manmade landmarks in 21Country, changing forever the face of a little town that hopes to build a better future on the foundation of a distant past.

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