Vintage street clock to be restored

Vintage horology is alive and well in Bremerton.

The second — and older — of the city’s two vintage street clocks just began a six-month restoration last week with its removal from the sidewalk in front of Moeller’s Jewelers, 322 N. Callow Ave.

City workers removed the clock with a crane — after considerable sweat and trouble unscrewing nuts and bolts that hadn’t been touched in 50 years. The old clock seemed to float in a haze of WD-40 as the three-foot bezel (frame for the dial) was lifted from the pedestal at 2 p.m..

They’d been at it since 9 a.m.

The city is offering storage and work space for the job that horologists (clock restorers) cherish.

Last November, after a year’s restoration, the vintage Jorgen Nelson Jewelers street clock was erected in front of the county museum on Fourth Street, between Washington and Pacific avenue.

The clocks are similar, but the Moeller clock is less ornate, older and shorter.

As with the 20-foot Nelson clock with its two, yard-wide glowing dials, the Moeller clock will be restored by a cooperative effort of the Kitsap County Historical Society Museum and the city — under the aegis of the Tacoma chapter of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors.

“It’s been at its present location since 1954,” said Capt. Paul Middents, USN retired, who also coordinated restoration of the Nelson clock. “It was originally installed in front of Moeller’s Jewelers when they were on Cambrian Avenue in 1928 — the same year the Nelson clock was installed.”

Middents said the Moeller clock was bought second-hand and was older. A plaque uncovered in dismantling the clock indicated it was made before 1922.

The clock hasn’t worked in years. One of its dials cracked in last February’s earthquake. There are six coats of paint on the clock, said Middents.

John Moeller, who inherited the jewelry business from his father, George H., in 1950, said Moeller’s Jewelers first came to the city in 1918. His father became a jeweler in 1893 working for Ribbin’s Jewelry Co. in St. Louis.

The business started on Cambrian Avenue, moved to Farragut Avenue briefly, then landed on Callow, said John Moeller.

He still runs the shop, but only opens once a week, he said.

After restoration, the clock will be returned to its spot in front of the jewelry store. The Nelson clock was relocated to the museum because Jorgen Nelson Jr. retired and closed his shop.

Total cost of restoration of the one-ton Nelson clock was $8,800 — most of it donated cash, labor and materials. The group restoring Moeller’s estimates they’ll need $7,000, said Middents.

The Moeller clock case was made by Pacific Car & Foundry. The clockworks were manufactured in Boston, by the E. Howard Co. The entire unit was assembled and sold by the same company as the Nelson timepiece — Joseph Meyer Co. of Seattle.

The clock had to be moved anyway due to planned sewer work in the area by the city, added John Moeller — so he decided to donate it to the museum on the stipulation it be re-erected in front of his shop.

The Nelson clock, now keeping perfect time in front of the museum, required the expertise of dozens throughout the area including a gold-leafing expert, foundry, clockworks expert, sign painter for the dials, a powder-coat company, paint strippers and others.

For further information on donating money, materials or services, contact Middents at or 692-3861.

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