Another change is simplifying chiming, from rotating three melodies to only Westminster Quarters famous on Big Ben and other clock towers.
By Pete Zamplas-The next time many people see and hear the historic McClintock Clock in Downtown Hendersonville will be this Thanksgiving weekend — and they are thankful for its recent restoration.
Christmas tree lighting is 5:30-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, outside the Historic Courthouse. Then the clock and all of Main Street will be showcased Friday, Dec. 6, in the annual Olde Fashioned Hendersonville Christmas. That event from 5-9 p.m. features cookies, refreshments and holiday music in many downtown stores.
The 86-year-old O.B. McClintock Co.-made chime clock is at the northeastern corner of Fourth Avenue and Main, on the upper level exterior of the stately stone-facade former Old State Trust Co. bank. It now houses the Henderson County Genealogical and Historical Society, with the Mineral & Lapidary Museum and its geode-cracking downstairs. McClintock specialized in chime clocks mounted to bank exteriors, and typically linked to an interior master clock.
The building designed by Erle Stillwell is Greek neoclassical revival with columns, like the 1905 Historic Courthouse, and dates back as far as 1921. Stillwell designed schools for decades. He is featured in a new Heritage Museum exhibit on local architecture. Historical accounts have the clock going up in 1923 or 1927, as a symbol of “faith in the future growth of Hendersonville.”
Downtown merchant Christine Filka said the large clock is a valued landmark in central Downtown, complimenting the Historic Courthouse and dome on the south side and new fountain at Main’s north end. She sees the clock essentially replacing the role of the gazebo, which was removed amidst Main Street re-landscaping.
Filka, who owns the nearby Beehive clothing shop, does not wear a watch. Rather than checking her cell phone for the time, she listens for the McClintock Clock to sound when walking downtown. “I love how the clock chimes,” she said.
The local casing did get a new touch, a scripted “H” for Hendersonville on the four lower slants.
Historian Tom Orr, a retired Hendersonville High teacher, as a teenager in the Fifties regularly danced in the Teen Canteen across the street from the clock and below ground. “I always looked at that clock for the time, to get home in time before my curfew.”
Even today, Orr refers to the clock as a directional landmark. “People say ‘I’ll meet you near the clock.’ I still do that, occasionally.” Seeing the clock prompts Orr to drift back in time, to historic events celebrated on Main such as the start and end of World War II. The clock in its heyday was more vocal than most, chiming every 15 minutes.
Orr and Filka are among many grateful that the time of the clock’s four sides are synchronized. The large four-sided clock is from 1927, the peak of the Roaring Twenties. Over time, the precision of time waned along with synchronization. A recent photo showed two faces 10 minutes apart in time. That could throw off people relying on the clock’s accuracy.
The clock reportedly malfunctioned in the Sixties. By 1993, 20 years ago, its inner workings were deemed beyond repair and replaced with an electric timer system. But that also failed, over time, and was hard to repair.
State Trust’s slogan was ‘dependable as time,’” as in saving over time and referring to its giant clock, Orr said. “But that was a joke. The clock was not very dependable.” But he said now “It feels good, to know it’s working well again.”
Once again, the grand clock chimes and is illuminated at night. Its operation is modernized with a new electronic control box, to automatically adjust to and from Daylight Saving Time and reset timing after a power outage.
Restoration was done by a National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors area trio. Project organizers Mark Ray and Nancy Pew own Dad’s C.A.T.S. store, noted project “team” member Orr. He spoke first at the clock’s rededication two weeks ago, Nov. 15, starting as the clock struck six o’clock and chimed. About 100 people attended, despite rain.
Dad’s C.A.T.S. at 221 N. Main St. specializes in models of airplanes, autos, trucks, tractors, cranes and other construction equipment. Ray is a retired engineer of earthmoving equipment.
Hendersonville City Council, Downtown Economic Development and the Historical Society were prime project funders. The Downtown Advisory Committee (now Friends of Downtown) raised private donations.
Restorers were chief engineer Gene Volk and fellow clock collectors Wayne Arcuri and Ed Kara. They took apart the second-level clock in early September, replaced many timing parts and reinstalled it. The dial was still a clean white, its corner borders vivid green.
In contrast, its casing remains discolored for greater authenticity and historic value and to fit Main’s old-time style. The patina oxidizer effect of green and blue-green is typical to aged copper, brass and bronze and is a plus. Clock collectors advised Ray this clock is an excellent specimen for its patina finish, further warranting its preservation. He told City Council in August, when touting the $5,000 restoration plan, that this is an “extremely sought-after clock.”
Another change is simplifying chiming, from rotating three melodies to only Westminster Quarters famous on Big Ben and other clock towers