It’s hard to find things older than, say, Betty White these days, but the Baxter clock has it two years old.

You know this clock – it’s on Pollocki Street, across from the old Baxter’s jewelry store and across from Christ Church. It’s probably the most photographed thing in town (and the second most photographed thing is Baxter’s clock with the town hall in the background).

These days we all wear watches on our wrists – watches that will not only tell us the time as determined by the satellites, but will monitor our heart rate, count our steps, answer our phone calls, predict the weather and, if we have paid for the extra option, eat the vegetables that we don’t like and transfer their nutrients to our system.

It wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t have these things. We wore watches which, if we hadn’t taken out a loan to get them, wasted five minutes a day and deteriorated completely if you forgot to wind them. Before those Bulova and Timex came along, we relied on pocket watches that hung from the end of chains in your pocket, like little ticking anchors.

Because watches were unreliable, cities installed official clocks by which everyone could set their own clocks and watches and be, more or less, on the same schedule.

For a few years, New Bern did not have a central clock – not even on what we call the town hall. This clock has been added – Wikipedia obnoxiously calls it “a square, bulky clock tower”. Until I got to the word “clock,” I thought they described my geeky cousin Cheetos, Frank.

The Baxter clock is a beautiful piece of work, you have to give it that. It was built by the Seth Clock Company in Connecticut in 1920, although the company has been producing this design since 1879. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and it is from this report that I share the information below. below.

JO Baxter had just finished building his new jewelry store on Pollock Street and wanted to set the clock there, as much to publicize his business as to keep residents informed of the time. Wikipedia claims the clock was not set until 1930 – but I don’t know what the source is.

The inscription on the face of the clock indicates its date of manufacture of June 24, 1920. It was installed just in time for the flaps to take what passed for selfies that day. The face of the clock is three feet wide and the whole shebang is 13 feet and three inches high.

It has four faces – much like two members of Congress – so you can read it in just about any direction.

In 1972, when the National Register search was typed, only three other clocks of this type were still functioning; in Washington DC, Salt Lake City and San Francisco. I wonder if there are still any today?

“The Baxter clock epitomizes the exuberant pre-depression era where stylistic flamboyance was the epitome of commercial dignity,” reports the National Register.

The clock has had its bad days. On May 5, 1977, a furniture truck backed up, damaging the room. The Baxters wanted to fix it, and the next day hired a salvage company to lift the clock off the pedestal for repairs. I don’t know if they sprayed the crane with Pam or what, but the crane dropped it and the clockwork turned to metallic confetti when it hit the ground.

And so, the non-functioning clock sat for 13 years until the Baxters turned the property over to Swiss Bear on the promise that Swiss Bear would find a way to fix it. The original manufacturer (now in Ohio) was found and, at a cost of $ 28,000, the clock was repaired and inaugurated on April 20, 1991.

But even then, things didn’t turn out well. According to the New Bern Historical Society, when removing the tarp and unveiling the clock, it got stuck on the spire at the top of the clock. A public works employee saved the day by using a lifting platform to release the tarp.

Contact Bill at [email protected] or 252-229-4977

Note to reader: Would the woman from Pollocksville who called me about her fighter pilot husband get back to me? Somehow I misplaced your number… that’s what I’m doing.

About The Author

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.