Edmond Town Hall, Newtown, Connecticut

Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, ConnecticutClock tower inEdmond Town Hall in Newtown, Connecticut
Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, Connecticut. The dials and bell in the tower are operated by a Standard Electric Time Company clock system. NAWCC (National Association of Watch and Clock collectors) Connecticut Chapter #148 restored the system and maintains it, and holds its meetings here.

A Walking tour of the Town Hall and its Clock System

Photos and text by Chris Locke, Sandy Hook, Connecticut

We'll start with the heart of the system in the Town Clerk's Office. In the inner office you'll find the Master Clock hanging on the wall in the same spot since it was installed in 1929. This is a 60 beat master clock, which helps bring the visitor back some 77 years, out from the hectic race of Main Street, to the slower tick....tock....tick....tock of a bygone era. One can't help but slow down when entering this room!
The master clock
Exiting the inner Town Clerk's Office, into the Outer Town Clerk's office, one finds the first slave clock. Hung on the front wall of the building, this clock is seen by all visitors into the office, and is the most accurate of the clocks we've restored.
Slave clock in town clerk's office
Upon leaving the Town Clerk's Office, and crossing the main entry way of the town hall, one enters the Selectman's Office, outer office. Hung on the wall, above one of the oldest maps of Newtown, is the first of 2 slave clocks in this area. This particular room used to be the Post Office prior to a new building being built, so this clock was seen by all coming to get their mail.
clock in  outer selectman's officecloseup of clock in  outer selectman's office
Going through a door into a brightly yellow painted room, is the Inner Selectman's office. Hung on the north wall of the room, which is very brightly lit during the afternoon, is the second slave clock. More difficult to reach, this clock is also one of the better time keeping pieces.
slave clock in inner selectman's officeslave clock in inner selectman's office
Since there are no more clocks in this side of the building, we'll cross the entry way once more, and walk down the hall past the Town Clerk's office, into the Probate Judge's office, where we find the second closest clock to the floor. This clock can be reached by standing on a chair. This is the only clock with gold painted trim, and is one of the nicer looking pieces in the town hall.
slave clock in probate judge's office
While on the topic of slave clocks, we'll go upstairs. up to the second floor, past the movie projectionist's room, to the small door which leads to the spiral staircase to the attic. Once in the attic, crossing by large blower motors for the building's HVAC system, and into the main attic proper, one finds a 20' steel ladder leading up. Climbing the ladder, opening the trap door, and twisting the light bulb opens the world of the tower. This lower level contains the bell strike apparatus, the light timer, and the bell strike timer. When the system was restored some years ago, the light timer was replaced with a Tork timer, which has been removed, and the original Standard Electric timer was replaced. An Allen Bradley relay was used to drive the lights, as there was no other means to do so.
bell strike apparatus
Strike timer
strike timer
Light timer
light timer
Up another 8 foot ladder takes you to the room with the faces. There were originally four faces, however, the west face was broken due to the fire siren being aimed directly at it, about 10 feet away outside. The face has been secured, though missing a triangular shaped piece, and the hands, and the movement is missing. The three remaining faces are identical, north, east, and south. (The south dial faces the all famous Newtown Flagpole on main street.)
north face
Rear of North face, showing the movement in its metal case.
rear of north face
Movement of North face
movement of north face
Up the ladder one more time, one finds the belfry, complete with bell which strikes the hours. Bell is marked "Meneely Bell Co, Troy, N.Y. 1929".
Meneely Bell Co, Troy, N.Y. 1929side of bellbottom of bell
Now, down the 10' ladder, down the 8' ladder, down the 20' ladder, down the spiral stairs, down the main stairs to the main floor, and down one more flight takes you to the lower level. Here is the first of the three clocks in the Lower Meeting Room. Alas, this clock was stolen in 2005. It was copper, and could be reached by anybody standing on a chair, which are plentiful since this is a meeting room.
lower meeting room

Down the hallway one will find the battery room. The cabinet was restored, and the batteries replaced with a modern version of what was there last installed in 1952. This cabinet remains locked. The original battery charger is long since missing, and was replaced by a Lamarche charger when the batteries were purchased, and can be seen mounted on the wall to the right of the battery cabinet. On the wall to the left of the cabinet is the original battery charger timer, which received pulses from the master clock to regulate how many hours a day the batteries were charged. Since this function is no longer required, it is not hooked up to the current battery charger.

Battery charger timer
battery charger timer
Battery cabinet (left)and battery charger (right)
battery cabinet
Down one more flight of stairs, one enters the Gym. This is the absolute most accurate clock in the system, in that in 6 years it has been running since restoration, it has skipped 1 minute. This clock is over 20 feet off the ground, and is not easily accessible.
clock in gym
Down four more steps takes you to the last clock to be installed in the system, finally in 2005, the boiler room clock. This clock was created using spare parts donated by members of the local 148 NAWCC, and is working.
boiler roomclock in boiler room

Credits:

The team that restored the clock system is photographed on page 189 of the NAWCC (National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors) Bulletin, Volume 43/2, No. 331, April 2001, and are as follows:

Jim Gardner, who wrote the article, provided assistance during the disassembly of the existing quartz movements, and who also spearheaded the restoration process by providing much needed direction for the various groups (battery/electrical, procurement of parts, disassembly, cleaning, and reassembly, etc).

Chris Locke, myself, who provided engineering and testing information about the battery system, tested the system to ensure operational safety with the existing wiring new charger and battery, provided the source for the replacement batteries, provided and wired the new battery charger, and is one of the two who continues the maintenance of the system.

Dana Blackwell, a continual source of information for all things clockworks, the one responsible for starting the pendulum swinging after close to two and a half decades of rest, cleaned and restored the master clock, and provided a new escape wheel and verge when the original one failed with a broken tooth.

Jim Katzin, worked in the tower on hot days to repaint the faded numerals on the dials, and also secured an electric motor shop owner (member) who replaced the worn bearings and brushes in the bell strike motor.

Jeff Wood, not pictured, whom I first met via a telephone call to inquire about all things Standard Electric, whom I had the pleasure to visit, has provided the most difficult of any pieces of repair parts for this system: Sheet platinum for the replacement drop and finger contacts in the master clock, the original copies of the as-built drawings of the system, including the bell strike mechanism, and entire system schematic, and importantly, a source of parallel electromagnets from which the (new) slave movements were constructed. Movements were donated by various members, but, alas, almost all were series movements.

Last but not least, my very dear friend Jerry Valenta, a continual source of support, and the second person to provide the ongoing maintenance of the system, the person responsible for my introduction to the world of clocks. Jerry re-made the battery cabinet, repaired and rebushed the tower movements, replaced all quartz movements, and walked every step of the restoration process with me. He constantly has clocks torn apart in his shop (town hall clocks of course) and makes the regular trips with me to the town hall to make repairs and adjustments. He originally contacted me due to my work with and knowledge of lead acid storage batteries with AT&T, my employer, but shortly thereafter, a friendship developed, that has permitted us to learn much about each others trade, such that pieces we repair together have a much improved life expectancy.

NEWTOWN, Conn., December 21, 2012 (AP) ? The chiming of bells reverberated throughout Newtown on Friday, commemorating one week since the crackle of gunfire in a schoolhouse killed 20 children and six adults in a massacre that has shaken the community ? and the nation ? to its core.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy gathered with other officials in rain and wind on the steps of the Edmond Town Hall as the bell rang 26 times in memory of each life lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The gunman also killed his mother before the massacre, and himself afterward.

Officials didn't make any formal remark, and similar commemorations took place throughout the country.

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To make this project a success, your help is needed. If you can provide a good picture of a special clock, it could well prove to be something that others would enjoy seeing here. Owners of clocks will receive credit unless they wish to remain anonymous. In return, or as a public service, we can provide in over 90% of cases, copies of original factory publications pertaining to a specific clock. These include master clock instructions, technical bulletins and wiring diagrams.

Inquiries concerning available materials may be E-mailed to

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