A clock shaped a bit like an exclamation point, with a bronze sun shining at the center of its black face, has kept time inside Boston’s Old North Church since 1726, three years after the church itself was built. But lately the pinion gears of the inner workings, which make sure that the brass wheels run to keep time, required repair. So Ken Pearson of Gloucester, who has operated the Time Machines Past and Present shop in Wenham since 1983, was hired to make the fix.
The Old North Church at 193 Salem St. in Boston’s North End is, of course, the famous church where two lanterns were raised in the steeple on the night of April 18, 1775, to signal that the British troops were marching to Lexington and Concord by sea, across the Charles River, and not by land–and the start of the American Revolution.
Richard Avery originally constructed the workings of the church’s clock. Thomas Bennett fashioned the red wooden case with bronze moldings. “These two church members had never built a clock before and never built one after and yet the Avery-Bennett gallery clock functions like typical grandfather clocks still created today,” the church reports.
Pearson is a 70-year-old descendent of Simon Willard, father of Simon Junior and Benjamin F. Willard, who cleaned the Avery-Bennett gallery clock in 1823 and 1830. After two months of restoration, Pearson re-installed the refurbished clock on the front gallery of the organ loft on June 16. The project was supported by a $1,800 grant from The Massachusetts Society of Colonial Wars and The General Society of Colonial Wars.
“The Avery-Bennett clock exemplifies the threads of active citizenship that weave throughout Old North’s history,” Old North Church & Historic Site Executive Director Nikki Stewart said in a press release. “We are all called to use our talents in unique, and sometimes unexpected ways. These novice clockmakers came together in partnership to create a clock that has served this community for 295 years with only a handful of repairs.”
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