Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Story of a Clock

After standing silently for years, the Mansion’s grandfather clock is once again marking the passage of time. It is now softly ticking, thanks to local clock expert Tommy Williams of Clockworks.

Through the Friends of the Governor’s Mansion, Mr. Williams volunteered to examine the clock and assess its condition. On his recommendation, the Friends arranged to have the mahogany case repaired and the badly damaged clock dial refinished. Mr.Williams took the works to his shop, took them apart, cleaned everything, and painstakingly reassembled them.  He observed the works for several months to make sure that everything was running properly before reinstalling them in the case.

Research by Friends of the Governor’s Mansion has determined that the clock is original to the house. Documentary and photographic evidence support this conclusion, and Mr. Williams’ inquiry in the clock experts’ world yielded additional  information.

The clock appears on the staircase landing in a Montgomery Advertiser photograph dated October 22, 1950, taken shortly after the purchase of the house from the Ligon family. The house, built by Adjutant General and Mrs. Robert Fulwood Ligon in 1907, was to become the official residence of the governor of Alabama. An even earlier photograph, taken in 1919, depicts the wedding party of their daughter Emily, assembled on the stairs in their wedding finery.  The clock is dimly visible on the landing.

The clue to the clock’s provenance is provided by a small plaque on the dial, engraved “LeBron Jewelry Co.” City directories reveal that Adolph W. LeBron, originally of Galena, llinois, owned a jewelry shop at 14 Dexter Avenue by 1901.  By 1913, he had moved his business, “LeBron Jewelry Co., A.W. LeBron, Pres. and Manager, Diamonds, Watches, Jewelry & Gifts,” to 104 Dexter Ave.  From 1914-1917, his advertisement included: “at the Sign of the Big Clock.” By 1919, LeBron was no longer listed in the city directory for either business or residence.

Mr. Williams learned through the “clock network” that Mattias Bauerle made the clock in 1909-10 in St. Georgen, Germany. The clock has Westminster and Trinity chimes,

The clock was certainly purchased by the Ligons for their new home before 1918. It has stood there for  a century, serving as a link between the early days of the house and the Governor’s Mansion.

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