The Story of a Clock

In the sleepy hamlet of Granville, NY, in the foothills of the Adirondack mountains, adjoining the border of Vermont, history and a commitment are being honored.

The Village has issued an invitation to the rededication of the Veterans Clock which has been restored after it ceased to function 25 years ago.

Saturday, September 18th, 5pm, Corner of Main and North Streets.

The original clock on that site was attached to the Granville National Bank Building which was erected in 1875.  On November 30, 1942, the old bank building was destroyed in a fire and the clock destroyed.

On January 7, 1943, a letter to the Editor, written by Malcolm F. Kelley, was published which proposed replacing the clock with a new one which would commemorate the men serving in World War II.

In March the American Legion secured permission from the Washington County National Bank to mount a new electric clock on the corner of their building.

The clock is to bear an appropriate inscription as a memorial to the boys who are now fighting America’s battles in defense of democracy

Fundraising for the clock began in May, 1943, starting with a Tag Sale.

The contest for the inscription was also proceeding rapidly.

The townspeople were generous with donations.

The Fire Department planned a carnival for July 3rd, which was hugely successful and pushed the project over the funding goal line.

In the weeks following, the inscription was chosen, the clock was ordered, and preparations for the dedication were made.

On Sunday, September 26, 1943, the veterans clock, one of the first memorials to the troops fighting in World War II was dedicated.

For 40+ years the bronze clock with its stained glass clock face and inscriptions steadily chimed every quarter hour, rain, snow or shine.  Two generations grew up in Granville to the reassuring certainty of the clock.

Then, twenty five years ago, it fell silent.  The bronze hands, long the standards for punctuality, stood motionless.  The chimes, those melodious beacons, which proclaimed the march of time throughout the center of town, rang no more.

And so it sat, forlorn, a mockery of its own inscription, “Lest We Forget”.

No one has mentioned when the original bank building was demolished and the clock mounted on a free standing pole, presumably sometime before it became inoperable.

The clock makes a cameo appearance (at 3:14) in this video of Granville dating from the 1970’s when it was mounted on the side of a building across North Street from the former bank location.  This is probably the period while the new bank building was being constructed, which is visible at the left at the very end of the video.

Here is what it looked like a few years ago, back on the west side of North Street in front of the new bank building:

For at least one man, the situation with the clock was intolerable:

For the last 25 years, John Freed has traveled past the broken 800-pound clock standing sentry in the middle of Granville.

While it worked, the clock’s chimes could be heard all over town, summoning children back home to dinner. But then it simply stopped working and the chimes went away.

As each year went by he became angrier that the clock, dedicated in 1943 to honor Granville’s World War II veterans, had ceased to function.

Read the rest of this story here.

A followup story detailed the end of the restoration:

It took John Freed four months to restore the World War II commemorative clock that stood broken in the center of town for the last 25 years.

Angry that a clock dedicated to veterans ceased to work, Freed, the owner of a computer software firm and music instrument repair business, decided to fix the clock for the veterans on his own and free of charge.

But when he took the clock down from its pole on the front lawn of TD Bank back in April, donations came pouring in.

Read the rest of this story here.

So, if you can possibly make it, the trip to Granville this Saturday will be worth your while to see a historic artifact returned to its former glory and the commitment to the veterans it honored, restored.

Pictures of the restoration in progress are here.

Matthew Rice’s blog, where he transcribed the original Granville Sentinel news stories, is here.

You can follow his reporting at the Granville Sentinel here. (Subscription required)

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