The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is the city’s attic where all our cool, old stuff is stored. From time to time, we take down something we haven’t seen in a while, fix it up and put it out for friends to admire.
Matt Mayberry, museum director, is hoping Side Streets readers will dig into their attics to help him fix up one of the museum’s really cool pieces.
Mayberry wants to restore the historic street clock that stands on the north plaza of the museum grounds and is in need of restoration.
“There is active deterioration of the metal,” Mayberry said.
“And the clock hasn’t been working right for a couple years.”
It’s a big deal because its manufacturer, E. Howard & Co. in Boston, was famous for building clocks that lasted decades. Centuries, even. This was one of them. The clock tower in the museum also features Howard clocks.
This is not some modern clock with an electric motor running the hands.
The huge, round face, skinny pedestal and base hide sophisticated cables, gears and cranks.
Clock expert Carl Mattson of Carl’s Clock and Watch Repair explained how it works.
“They have to wind it once a week,” he said, explaining how a T-handled crank tightens a steel cable to power the clock.
The base of the clock houses a weight and the mechanical movements. A drive shaft snakes up the circular post and connects to a transmission that drives the two sets of hands. There are also several pulleys attached to the weight.
This thing is a mechanical marvel. The Rolex of its day, in my opinion.
Mattson said an 1890 E. Howard catalog priced the clock at $600. That was some serious bling for Mahan Jewelry to pay in 1900 or the equivalent of about $16,900 in 2013 dollars, according to the Consumer Price Index calculator.
Of course, mere dollar signs can’t measure the historic value of the clock, which told Colorado Springs residents the time since it was first placed on the “Busy Corner” of Pikes Peak Avenue and Tejon Street in 1900 to advertise Mahan Jewelry.
(Incidentally, the clock stood near the Out West Building, which became The Gazette before we moved across Shooks Run into the Hillside neighborhood southeast of downtown. Ironically, we’ll be moving back to the Busy Corner in a few months.)
Anyway, in researching the colorful history of the clock and its less-than-precise movements around downtown over the years, Mayberry was frustrated that he could find no good color photos of it back in the day.
For Mattson to be able to do a faithful restoration, Mayberry wants to make sure he gets the color right.
That’s where you come in.
Mayberry is hopeful Side Streets readers might rummage around in the attics or basements or hall closets and dig out a photo or slide that shows the clock in its Busy Corner glory.
Not after it was purchased and moved in 1962 to save it from one of our disastrous “urban renewal” phases which destroyed so many historic structures downtown.
Mayberry has plenty of photos of its time in front of the old Knights of Columbus gymnasium where the museum was housed before finding a permanent home in the old El Paso County Courthouse on South Tejon.
So dig deep and see what you can find. If you score an image that might help, you can contact the museum at 385-5990 by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It will be great to see the clock running again and looking like its old self.
Just wish I could persuade Mayberry to replace it on the Busy Corner. I’d love to see it when I look out the window.
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