in part to an inspiration that came to horologist Gene Galbraith during the early
morning hours of a cold and rainy January 13, 2007, the Southwest Museum of Clocks
and Watches now resides on the historic square in downtown Lockhart,
Texas. Galbraith, the founder of the museum, was lying awake mulling over
various ideas to increase public interest in horology, the art and science of
making timepieces, when he came up with a vision of establishing the clock museum.
By March, Galbraith had assembled a board of Directors, and on April 9, the Museum
was officially organized as a Texas Nonprofit Corporation.
Southwest Museum of Clocks and Watches
Historic Brock Building
the official paperwork out of the way, Galbraith next turned his attention to
a public relations campaign to make people aware that a clock museum would soon
be coming to the central
Texas area. Galbraith had been under contract with Caldwell County since 2005
to maintain the Seth Thomas clock in the courthouse
tower, and this business arrangement would prove invaluable in promoting his vision
of the museum. What better way to build public awareness of clocks than to stage
a Tower Clock Open House. The program would begin with an educational program
presented in the historic Caldwell
County Courthouse, and conclude with guided tours of the tower's seventh floor
to view the great Seth Thomas clock.
and all across central
out to view the clock, and the Open House was a resounding success. The gala event
also served to bring the city of Lockhart
to the attention of clock enthusiasts throughout central
who appreciated the historical significance of the setting. As Vice-President
of Southwestern Chapter 15 of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors,
Galbraith was in charge of organizing and promoting the 2007 convention in Kerrville.
He used this platform to go public with his plans to establish a clock museum
in the spring or summer of 2008. Then later, after he was elected as President
of the organization, he was able to use the prestige of his office to promote
the museum and add credibility to his leadership of the project.
final step was to find a suitable location for the Museum, and this task was accomplished
by leasing the majestic Brock Building on the northeast corner of Main
and San Antonio, across from the courthouse
on the historic town square. The Brock Building was constructed in 1898, four
years after the Caldwell
County Courthouse. Registered as a National Historic Landmark, it was the
perfect site for a museum dedicated to the preservation of historic timepieces.
After more appeals to raise money and much more hard work, both paid and voluntary,
the Southwest Museum of Clocks and Watches officially opened its doors at 9:00
am on March 29, 2008.
"Caldwell County Courthouse Old Seth Thomas tower clock
Photo by Jeffery
visitors step through the front door of the museum the first exhibit to catch
their eyes is a beautifully restored tower clock. The clock is in fact the original
clock. The 1893 Seth Thomas Grandfather Time stopped working in 1993 and
was replaced by an almost identical, but twenty years younger, salvaged clock
purchased in Ohio. When Gene Galbraith learned the old clock had been disassembled
and put to rest in the dirt basement of the Tax Office, he set out to restore
it. Nearly three years later, in time for the Museum's 2nd Anniversary Celebration,
the Seth Thomas Grandfather Time was on exhibit in the front gallery. There is
also a gift shop at the front of the museum that sells handcrafted jewelry, as
well as exquisite estate jewelry items on consignment.
|In addition to the
old courthouse clock, there are many other exhibits in the museum that will surely
catch the visitor's eye. Hanging on the wall to your right as you start down the
gallery is a pocket watch that once belonged to a Union soldier. Dented by the
mini ball that killed the Yank at the Battle of Stones River in Tennessee, one
of the bloodiest fights in the Civil War, the watch is still set on the time of
the soldier's death. Next on your left is the Early American gallery dominated
by three Seth Thomas clocks, and a small circular table with carved pictures of
George and Martha Washington, and Washington's lifelong friend, the Marquis De
Lafayette. There is also a collection of "banjo" wall clocks, so named because
they take the basic shape of the instrument. A replica of a Benjamin Franklin
clock stands in the corner. After the Early American gallery is a gallery of French
and German clocks. The ornate carving in the woodwork of the German clocks easily
distinguishes them from the French, but the entire collection is interesting,
and quite beautiful.
combination desk, clock, and fancy music box with miniature hand-carved musicians
and angels that once belonged to famous showman P. T. Barnum" - Jeffery
Robenalt, 2010 photo
down the gallery is a clock made entirely of wood, including the gears that operate
the time piece's mechanism. It seems brass was in short supply in early 19th Century
America and thus expensive, so Eli Terry came up with the idea of manufacturing
wooden clocks that more people could afford. At the rear of the museum are two
interesting exhibits: one is an 1850 Thwaites and Reed tower clock from
a building in England that was bombed out during World
War II. Having been completely restored by Galbraith and his assistants, the
clock is now fully operational, and plans are in the works to create the museum's
own version of a tower clock. Standing alongside the tower clock is a tall combination
desk, clock, and fancy music box with miniature hand-carved musicians and angels
that once belonged to famous showman P. T. Barnum. Above the desk is a
coin slot Barnum cut into the clock so visitors to his home could pay for the
privilege of hearing the music and seeing the miniature musicians in action.
well as exhibiting historical clocks and watches, Galbraith restores and repairs
antique time pieces in a small workroom at the rear of the museum. Larger jobs
are accomplished off-site at Galbraith's home west of Bee Cave. The museum also
has an agreement with the Texas Historical Commission to repair and restore courthouse
tower clocks. Currently, Galbraith and his crew are restoring the Hood
County Courthouse tower clock in their off-site facility, and the museum's
proposal for the Cooke County Courthouse Tower Clock Restoration was recently
approved. After the Cooke County restoration is complete, the great clock will
be on exhibit in the museum for a year.
For a unique historical experience,
I highly recommend a visit to the Southwest Museum of Clocks and Watches in Lockhart.
You will experience a glimpse into the art and science of horology that is both
entertaining and informative. Dan Sweet, a volunteer docent, gave me an enjoyable
personal tour, and either he or one of the other museum volunteers is standing
by to do the same for you. Take the time to wander through this historic city
landmark. You won't regret it.
of Texas Past"'
January 1, 2011 Column
Lockhart, Texas | Book Hotel Here
> Lockhart Hotels
by Jeffery Robenalt - Order Here >
|Book Hotel Here
by Jeffery Robenalt