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Clocks at the New Museum of Springfield (Massachusetts) History

October 12, 2009

The new Museum of Springfield History opened to the public as scheduled on October 10, 2009, with much work remaining to be done on both the building and the various exhibits. It was a bigger project than anyone had expected! Right now, three important clocks by The Standard Electric Time Co. are on display, as shown below, with more to follow.

List No. 60PSM master clock and List No. 624 program clockList No. 60PSM master clock and List No. 624 program clock
List No. 60PSM master clock and List No. 624 program clock, circa 1926. Features include mercurial pendulum, 6 pilot clocks and milliammeter, with 6-circuit program movement in matching oak cabinet.
List No. 56 PI master clock, oak
List No. 56PI master clock, oak, circa 1930. Features include 4-cylinder invar pendulum, 4 series type pilot clocks, 1 multiple type pilot clock, 6-circuit program movement and special order case. See photo accompanying newspaper article below for interior details.
38 inch wrought iron flush mount skeleton dial with No. 3 secondary movement.38 inch wrought iron flush mount skeleton dial with No. 3 secondary movement.
38 inch wrought iron flush mount skeleton dial with No. 3 secondary movement

Museums Get Timely Donation


From The (Springfield, MA) Republican, Saturday, March 8, 2008

© 2008 The Republican Company. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

SPRINGFIELD - The Springfield Museums on Thursday accepted a timely donation - clocks that were manufactured in Springfield.

With Daylight Saving Time scheduled for 2 a.m. tomorrow, you might say the clocks changed hands almost at the 11th hour.

The Standard Electric Time clocks were given to the new Museum of Springfield History by Jeffrey R. Wood of Wilbraham, a clock enthusiast and unofficial historian of the former local thriving clock manufacturer.

The clocks may be old - the larger one probably was built in the 1930s, while the smaller one likely dates from the early 1920s - but they're accurate.

"It's a very good timekeeper," Wood said of the larger, primary clock.

The two timepieces donated to the museum were parts of an electric clock system that regulated the time of clocks in schools throughout the country. The Standard Electric Time company specialized in making clocks for use in schools, banks, hospitals and other public buildings, Wood said.

The larger clock - the "master clock" - advances the hands of the classroom clocks, which are called "slave" clocks, every minute so that all the clocks are synchronized. The master clock's pendulum, called an invariable pendulum, makes the device precise, Wood said.

Practically all schools in the country had these clocks at one time. One still keeps time in the Center School in Longmeadow, Wood said.

The new history museum will be the perfect place to house the clocks, said Guy A. McLain, Springfield history museums director

"This is going to be a great addition to what we want to develop," he said. Collections will feature all the technological innovation of the city in the latter part of the 19th and into the 20th century.

"Springfield was a center of the Industrial Revolution in America," McLain said. "This was like the Silicon Valley of the Industrial Revolution."

The Standard Electric Time company, which operated from 1912 until 1981 on Logan Street, is a prime example of the industrial and mechanical innovation of Springfield, he said.

"They were technologically advanced clocks, ahead of their time," McLain said.

Standard Electric Time was founded in Connecticut, but moved to Springfield because of the city's reputation as a center of innovation and its highly trained work force, McLain said.

Displaying locally manufactured clocks to show Springfield's important role in the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. is more than fitting. Standardized time, which we all now accept as the norm, was developed as an important aspect of the Industrial Revolution, particularly in the development of railroads, which expedited the pace of the technological changes, as cited in a Web site on Daylight Saving Time.

The donated clocks will be kept in storage until it's time for the new history museum building to open, McLain said.

Daylight Saving Time requires the setting of clocks to spring forward one hour in order to make better use of the sunlight hours. It moves one hour of light to the end of the day.

Conceived by Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Daylight Saving Time was adopted in some European countries in 1916 and here in 1918, according to a link listed on the National Institute of Standards and Technology. (

Standard Electric Time clock Wood is donating to the museum
Left to right, Guy A. McLain, Museum of Springfield History director, George W. Holman, of Holman Engineering, and Jeffrey R. Wood, of Wilbraham, a clock enthusiast, look over the Standard Electric Time clock Wood is donating to the museum. Republican Staff photo by MARK M. MURRAY.

UPDATE: August 20, 2008

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Daylight Saving Time for SET 140x and 146x Series Master Clocks

The United States will observe Daylight Saving Time starting March 11, 2007. If you have a Standard Electric Time master clock series 140X or 160X, you may obtain new firmware so that they will do automatic daylight saving time on the correct days. Here is the link:

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Oct. 16, 2006

– Springfield College today announced that S. Prestley Blake and Helen Davis Blake will contribute $2 million to support the college through its fund raising campaign, and that the college will change the name of Wilbraham Hall to Herbert P. Blake Hall in honor of S. Prestley Blake’s late father.

S. Prestley Blake, co-founder of the Friendly Ice Cream Corp, credits his parents, Herbert and Ethel Blake, for his success in life and in business and considers their memories to be his ongoing guiding forces. The college will conduct a rededication ceremony of Herbert P. Blake Hall on Oct. 20, 2006, at 1 p.m.

In announcing the gift, Helen Blake said, “It is especially fitting to honor Pres’ father, whose memory continues to inspire us, with a gift that will allow Springfield College to continue its mission of educating students in spirit, mind and body to become tomorrow’s leaders in service to others. We believe strongly in Springfield College as a leader in its field, and in the efforts of President Flynn to continue and extend the college’s excellence. The college is a treasure in our community.”

Responding to the gift, Springfield College President Richard B. Flynn said, “We are deeply grateful to Pres and Helen Blake. Their gift will help enable us to continue to educate students with our core value of service to others. The Blakes, by their generous donation of time, talent and resources, exemplify the humanitarian principles that guide all aspects of the Springfield College education.”

Helen Davis Blake, who earned her master’s degree in education from Springfield College, is vice chair of the college’s board of trustees and co-chair of its funding campaign, Leadership for the 21st Century, The Campaign for Springfield College. She is a retired teacher and has served on the college’s board of trustees for 17 years.

Pres and Helen Blake, through their philanthropy, have supported schools, universities, libraries, and theaters throughout Western Massachusetts and beyond.

The soon-to-be-named Herbert P. Blake Hall is the former Standard Electric Time Company building. Herbert P. Blake worked for the Standard Electric Time Company in the development and marketing of the company’s products and retired as vice president in charge of sales.

Springfield College acquired the Standard Electric Time Building in 1990 and renovated it in 2002 into a modern academic building. It now comprises 60,000 square feet of classrooms, study areas, academic departments, faculty offices, conference rooms, art studios, galleries, and the Alden Center for Interactive Learning, a videoconferencing facility.

Leadership for the 21st Century: The Campaign for Springfield College entered its public phase in June 2005 with a goal of $40 million. With the Blakes’ gift, the college has raised more than $27 million.

Through its fund raising campaign, the college recently began renovation of Schoo Hall into a state-of-the-art science teaching facility. The college also plans to construct a new wellness center, field house, and campus union.

(Springfield College Press Release)

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Death Knell for the School Bell?

Electromechanical clock systems programmed to ring school bells at predetermined times have long been headed in the direction of total obsolescence. The trend has been toward "ringtones" originating from within the school's public address system. Today, however, the emerging concept is to do away with programmed signals altogether. What will they think of next?

View the article at Local News

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Jeffrey R. Wood, creator of the Standard Electric Time Co. (SETCO) pages of, passed away in August of 2018. I will maintain the SETCO web pages in honor of Jeff, but will not be making any additions or changes, or answering any questions. It is hard to express how much I miss Jeff, his friendship, and his wonderful contributions to Standard Electric and Westclox research.

Bill Stoddard

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