A Database of Seattle Clocks by Time, Owner and Location
Six years in the making, I’m happy to publicly unveil my Seattle street clock database.
The ado comes next. At the end I will chronicle open questions and updates. For now, the link:
(You’ve gone too far. That was the link to it. Okay, now you can keep reading.)
This all started in 2003 with the Seattle Clock Walk, an attempt to explain the background of downtown Seattle’s diverse clocks and chart them in a self-guided tour. In 2004 I set out to find every public clock in the city limits, and as far as I know it’s complete.
Early on I had the idea to figure out where every clock had ever been. In 2004 the Background page for the clock walk said,
If I get totally out of control, I’ll try to determine historic clock locations. I did find information on a number of clocks at the turn of the 1900s, but don’t expect to put in further research hours anytime soon.
But by 2007 I had given up,
At one point I considered researching historic clock locations. I’ll say that the UW and Seattle archives have photos of many clocks stretching back to around 1900. I don’t plan on spending any more time on this effort.
It kept bugging me, though. With all of those photos out there it seemed *knowable*. Where were they when? Since nobody else knew it, I really wanted to. I started in late 2009, and it was even more difficult than I could have imagined. First I went through online photographs at the Seattle Municipal Archives, Museum of History & Industry, and University of Washington. I looked through them one by one, seeing if I could spot a clock. Each hit was recorded in a simple spreadsheet. Next, I had to figure out where they were, and which were the same clock.
Thing was, I had no idea what I was looking at to begin with. Eventually I learned the major landmarks in old Seattle, and developed the ability to place a photo in the three-dimensional city. That became especially necessary for the many photos that were poorly labeled with location or orientation. Many also had imprecise dates – often “n.d.” for no date. Along the way I sent dozens and dozens and dozens of corrections, refined date guesses, and comments to our region’s archives.
There were two critically important discoveries. One was the “Clocks” folder at the Seattle Municipal Archives. It contains copies of all of the street use permits from 1917 to 1941, which means every clock installation is recorded by address. The other came when I went to the DOT permit office to see if they had originals of the permits, which often mentioned attached photos and plans. I still haven’t found them, but a staff person found a folder with three inventories of clocks done in the 1920s. (I’ve separately shared those as a map on figshare already.) The third most important – I can’t quite call it critically important – was folders of photos of street clocks in the Seattle Public Library’s Werner Lenggenhager collection. That man was amazing.
Miraculously I met another person who wanted to determine the history of Seattle’s clocks. Paul Middents was beginning to research Joseph Mayer, Seattle’s street clock maker. (He’s making good progress on a book.) Paul and I compared notes and have had many crazed emails attempting to prove or disprove theories on various clock’s origins and connections. The dataset would not be in the state it is without Paul’s input.
- Fixed 1040, clock
- Fixed 1020, clock and owner
- Corrected Source_ID 12720 to 9097
- Fixed 505, clock
- Fixed 482, address and owner
- Fixed 944 and 492, owner
- Fixed 481-485, date
- Fixed 825, date and owner
- Added 1068 through 1193
- 1120 and 1121 owner not yet identified
Summary: folded Butterworth clock together with Stacy Shown (2); corrected date on photo of Peter Michael clock based on visible ads, and cleaned up several other entries for this clock; new entries and info about Knox.
- Fixed 5 and 910 by connecting the Butterworth clock (Clock 45) with Shown (2) (Clock 4)
- Fixed 47, the Peter Michael clock, added second comptroller file to Source_ID, set as start year at address (“0”), added note that this is the origin
- Fixed 515, the Peter Michael clock, by correcting the date based on advertising to 1912 per Paul Middents (was c 1908 based on text from the pstos.org page I found it on)
- Fixed 514-516, added url in source_id to actual photo, all pointed to same HTML page previously
- Fixed 103, the Knox clock, corrected Location_Address to 519 Pine
- Added 1194, photo of Knox clock at 519 Pine in 1922 or 1923 found by Ron Edge
- Added 1197, indicating year of movement for Knox clock to 611 Pine
- Updated 352, added note that Knox was out of Seattle by March 1924
I followed up on a number of notes that I had left in June, stumbled on a few new ones, and was lucky to have a couple shared with me.
Added photos, by ID:
- 1195, Kimura clock with unknown owner in 1950
- 1196, view of Albert Hansen at 1010 2nd in 1917
- 1198, Dime & Dollar (2nd view ever) in 1925
- 1199, Druxman in 1943
- 1200, City Ice neon sign clock in Fremont in 1939
- 1201, Asakura in 1937 from Jackson Street After Hours
- 1202, Black in 1969
- 1203, Victor in 1917
- 1204, Houghton around 1915 from To Tacoma by Trolley
Edited photos, by ID:
- 447, deleted. I did not record details of photo, and the information isn’t helpful.
- 508, deleted. Duplicate of 253.
- 1194, added URL after finding online.
- 908, added URL after finding online.
- 518, corrected clock to American Jewelry from Gates (1)
- 253, minor date change from 1913 +/-2 to 1912 +/-1
Version 6 contains the following updates since October. These include results from a survey of City of Seattle comptroller files that somehow escaped me previously:
Added photos and comptroller files, by ID:
- 1205, Burnett Bros at 4th and Pike, 1938
- 1206, Bergman sign installation permit
- 1207-1210, 4th and Pike image from MOHAI
- 1211, comptroller file with installation date for Houghton
- 1212, comptroller file with installation date for Burnett Brothers
Edited entries, by ID:
- Corrected typo, all owner and clock names from Bayse to Basye
- 716, corrected to new Dorpat URL
- 1184, changed date on Burnett Bros from 1935 +/- 5 to 1940 +/- 5
- 817, corrected address for Sunde
- 716 and 969 were duplicates. 969 has better info so retained it, deleting 716.
- 1142 and 965 were duplicates, pointing to same clock. 965 had correct info (Coffin), so deleted 1142 (Hoeslich)
- 48, corrected comptroller file number; expanded note
Entry 48’s note doesn’t capture the significance of the find. I added this in the earliest days of the database as I transitioned from copious notes to a systematic catalog of evidence for clocks. I did not understand the letters in the comptroller file at that time. Now I know that we are looking at the pre-history of L. W. Suter’s first clock in 1906. And furthermore, within the microfiche of the secondary file is a photograph of a blueprint. This is the only time I’ve ever seen it say “blueprint attached” and there was actually a blueprint. This is a different Joseph Mayer blueprint than the two that were in SDOT possession in 2009.
Version 7 contains the following updates.
Added more than 100 pieces of evidence. Added “Type” column to Clocks tab.
Expanded the database to include more tower, sign and facade clocks, as well as an additional time ball.
Added façade and sign clocks:
- Broadway Market
- Butterworth Funeral Home
- Colman (2)
- Colman (4)
- Corner Market (1)
- Corner Market (2)
- Union Station
Added tower clocks:
- Bonney-Watson Funeral Home
- Colman (1)
- Central School
- Georgetown City Hall
- Georgetown City Hall (2)
- King Street Station
- West Seattle High School
- Added Beninghausen time ball evidence and earlier location, 1219-1222, 1226.
- Added Seattle Times time ball, clock, owner and evidence, 1223-1225.
- Added manufacturer information to a number of clocks: 60, 96, 10, 97, 86, 105, 47, 99, 52, 43, 107, 48, 143, 142, 141, 117, 121, 93, 58, 113, 87, 132, 77, 41, 108, 12.
- Corrected manufacturer for these clocks: 34, 46, 82.
Sign and tower clocks:
- Added Broadway Market sign clock as clock, owner and evidence: 1229, 1230, 1231, 1232.
- Consolidated clock “Pacific Commercial Bank” (123) under “Japanese Bank”. Corrected owners before 1928 to “Japanese Commercial Bank” and after 1928 to “Pacific Commercial Bank”. Removed evidence 1132 which was a duplicate of 507.
- Separated State Building clock (Bank of America) from Japanese Commercial Bank, it is visibly a different clock. Added installation date, corporate ownership history, 1270-1272.
- King Street Station clock ownership changes, 1237-1240.
- Central School photographs and start/end, 1241-1247.
- Georgetown City Hall (1), 1248-1258; Georgetown City Hall (2), 1259-1261.
- West Seattle High School clock, 1262-1265.
- Bonney-Watson Funeral Home, 1266-1269.
- Union Station, 1273-1276.
- Butterworth, 1277-1280.
- Corner Market (1), 1281, 1282, 1284; Corner Market (2), 1283, 1285, 1286.
- Colman Dock clocks 1 through 4, added 1288-1304, 1213-1218.
- Expanded Woolworth’s evidence, 1313-1315.
Colman street clock:
- Changed Mayer clocks on Marion to Colman (3) per conversation with Paul Middents, 795 and 339.
- Added missing references to Colman (3), 1216-1218.
- Several items listed the incorrect number from the Seattle Municipal Archives records: 804, SMA 2451 to 293; 506, SMA 2450 to 292; 507, SMA 7181 to 3134; 60, SMA 2449 to 290.
- Changed all broken Seattle Municipal Archives links to point at a static link to the photo rather than their impermanent link to the record. There were a large number of these.
- Corrected spelling of jeweler Benninghausen to Beninghausen (clock and owner).
- Corrected date on photo WAR0154 from 1895+/-4 to “1904+/-1” — must be between 1903 and 1906 because of time ball.
- Corrected clock and owner, Friedlander (1) to Burnett Bros (2) in: 717.
- Corrected 609 date and added number and URL; added 1236 for another visible clock.
- Corrected 219 from Michael to Hansen.
- Deleted clock 28, Provident Loan, because it was folded into Dime and Dollar awhile back.
- Removed evidence 1134, duplicate of 769.
- Added owner for Sunde clock, Karfstedt, between Sunde and Alpine. Added 1227. Corrected owner to Karfstedt in evidence 684, 311, 966, 293, 740, 745, 929.
- Corrected date of newspaper publication for evidence 293, Sunde.
- Corrected owner and clock for evidence 267, clock at 4th and Pike.
- Added possible end date for Green; description of clock, 1228.
- Added entries for ownership changes of Caplan (2), 1233, 1234, 1235.
Version 8 Contains:
- Added owner for 1120 Columbia Building
- Added Pacific Outfitting Co clock, 1319
- Added missing manufacturer info for 110, 162, 71, 176, 31, 66, 69, 100, 145, 163, 168, 33, 72
Incorrect details and duplicates:
- Corrected clock type for 47
- Changed 1120 and 1121 Suter (1) to Hansen (2)
- Corrected name of owner Warshal’s to Warshall’s; clock Warshal to Warshall
- Corrected name of owner Frederick to Fredrick
- Corrected URL in 12
- Corrected owners for Gilger clock: 701, 849 to Silver; 759, 58, 764, 524 to Fredrick
- Corrected clock for evidence 955 from Centralia to Century Square
- Deleted clock 110, Burnett Bros (1), which was folded into Hansen (1) awhile back.
- Former “Kay” clock relabeled “Jorgen Nelson (1)” based on new evidence 1326. There is a chance this became Moeller clock in Bremerton.
- Former “Jorgen Nelson” clock [which is not included in the evidence yet, and is a clock in Bremerton, WA] relabeled “Jorgen Nelson (2)”.
- Evidence 826, adjusted date to c1920 instead of firm 1919, can’t be 1919.
- Corrected 309, 766, 598, 580 to Basye clock owned by L. L. Moore from Hansen (1)
- Corrected address for 1124, 913, 771
- 1030, corrected clock from Caplan (1) to Kaplan. Fixed date to 1933+/-3 from 1927+/-4, corrected owner to Sam Caplan from M B Caplan. (Caplan 1 was destroyed in 1924, and the Orpheum was created in 1927, so this is later than those two dates.)
- Evidence 505, corrected clock and owner from Hardy to Burnett Bros (2)
- 1131, 1146 corrected owner from Michael to Larne CH and clock from Michael to Century Square
- Corrected addresses for Johnson Jewelry, 299, 646, 300, 553
- Updated date on 977, likely 1949 based on movie marquee per Vintage Seattle member
- Evidence 1317, new clock which has taken label “Kay” (separate from Jorgen Nelson (1))
- Added evidence for Lakeside school, 1318 and 1327
- Added evidence for Woolworth’s origin 1321 and photo photo 1322
- Added evidence of Caplan (2) relocated to NY for repairs, 1320
- Added evidence of First Hill relocation during construction, 1323, 1324
- 715, corrected clock to Basye from Gilger, owner to L. L. Moore
- Added evidence 1329 with estimated installation date for Jorgen Nelson (1).
- Add 1328 for Tipp move to 3rd and Pine
- Added 1332, estimate of installation for People’s Bank
- Added 1330 and 1331, 1954 photo
- Added 1335, 1336 for 1904 view of Fredrick and Moore
- Added Washington Mutual façade clock, with 1334 and 1333 for 1950s views
This month’s update to the clock db is again quite large. Two items are amazing.
First the small stuff:
- Changed “Newspaper” evidence type to “Periodical” to include magazines
- Fixed all Seattle Municipal Archives links to their new location
- Fixed remaining old pauldorpat.com links
- Corrected manufacturer of F. X. McRory’s clock per Paul’s comment
- Corrected date in 1000 from 1925+/-3 to 1918+/-2 based on visible Houghton & Hunter sign.
- 1352, added start date for Colman (2)
- 737, corrected file name for the image on my computer
- 1348-1351, added references to blueprints in my article
- 776, added address
- 1347, added opening date for L. W. Suter from newspaper
- 1345 and 1346, added install dates for B. L. Gates (1) and (2) based on newspaper ads
- 1342 and 1343, a photograph from 1913 of Union Station and King Street Station
- 1337, a new photograph of the Menashe clock in West Seattle with the square head
- Corrected date of evidence 52 to 1953
- 269, added “0” to indicate start date
- Added a number of photographs from Stephen Cysewski’s Flickr stream from the 1970s and 1980s: 1353 is Woolworth’s; 1354 Century Square with old dial design; 1355 new sign clock at Zale’s; 1356 People’s Bank; 1357 and 1358 Myers Music; 1359 is the first view of Pacific Outfitting’s sign clock;
Here are the big ones:
- Merged Houghton into Columbia City. This was somewhat circumstantial. The Houghton clock was previously last known in 1952 at Setter’s former business on 2nd Avenue (evidence 1016) with no clock face or clockworks. Then, the Columbia City clock’s previous owner Myers Music was first seen in 1953 with a clock that had advertisements on the dial but no working clock face (310). They were the same clock model. There were no other unidentified clocks of this type. Clearly this is the same clock.
- Merged Crohn into F. X. McRory’s. Previously, the F. X. McRory’s known history was that it was at Frank Briggs in 1911-1912, then the Taintor Service Station starting in 1933. From that point until the present the history was well known. While trying to understand the Hoffman entry I found evidence that Hyman Greenblatt had brokered Briggs’ bankruptcy and Hoffman’s. The same clock had been at Briggs, Hoffman, and then Greenblatt. I had evidence already that Greenblatt’s was bought by Crohn Brothers, with evidence there until a couple of years before Taintor installed it during the Great Depression.
While updating those, I corrected Greenblat to Greenblatt. Also 1338-1341 were added, a postcard from Ron Edge that inspired conversation between Paul Middents and I, leading to the full history of F. X. McRory’s and Columbia City clocks.
Additionally, Paul and I have determined the history of the street clock at Blackman Ltd in Newport Beach, CA. I expect to find at least a temporary address in Seattle and will add it to the database at that time.
Version 11. (Version 10 was changes are rolled in here; it had a few errors.)
A sudden influx of data has caused a major update after 9 months of little change.
10% increase in data
10% increase in clocks
6% increase in owners
I visited the Washington State Archives in Bellevue and found photos of clocks in known or suspected locations on property cards. A number of new clocks were added, mostly sign clocks, based on the property photos.
Also I discovered photos that have been published to the Seattle Public Library’s online collection that I missed. Other sources added additional views.
- Hansen (2) clock was split, with Hansen (3) starting in 1930. With a new view, it was clearly a different clock.
- Split Kimura into (1) and (2). Photos reveal a period when Kimura had no clock.
- Merged 32 Beaverton with 142 Kimura (2)
- Merged Clock 107 Imperial with 85 La Fayette after seeing Imperial for the first time; same model clock, and dates match up
- Clock 98 Woodman was manufactured by Gillette; clear in first view of clock
- Owner of 919 and 1168 are Clifton, not Wolfe
- Owner of 717 to Burnett Bros
- Owner of 670 and 676 are Carroll’s, not Burnett Bros. The final date for Burnett Bros is now much earlier.
- Added detailed owner name to a number of entries.
- Added clock face count and notes to many clocks
- Deleted owner 49, which was duplicate of 12
- Deleted clocks 95 Turner, 125 Reliable, and 117 Crohn which were all merged into other clocks previously
There are a number of large changes to the database.
- 13% increase in evidence entries
- 11% increase in clocks
- 23% increase in owners
The Provident Loan clock currently in Lakewood, Washington was detached from Dime and Dollar and instead connected to a look-a-like, Burnett Bros (2). A close review of Burnett Bros (2) evidence in the late 1950s and 1960s revealed that Carroll’s (2) was actually pictured. A number of mid-1950s photographs at the Seattle Municipal Archives showed that Burnett Bros (2) was removed from 4th and Pike by 1955. This more closely matches Provident Loan with Burnett Bros (2) than with Dime and Dollar.
After Eric Ryback contacted me with new information, Paul and I were able to find enough evidence to conclude that Eric’s clock was the American Jewelry clock that disappeared from Seattle in the 1920s. American Jewelry is the clock at the top of this page in the foreground. It went to San Francisco, spent decades in a barn, and Eric purchased it recently.
The current owner and recent history of the Wolfe clock was determined.
The Clocks tab was extended with a number of new columns to include current location and owner, a link to a recent photo (for existing clocks), and a link to the Pacific Coast Architecture Database if the clock or the building it is on is included there. Dates for first and last known appearance were added for all clocks. This information will allow the database to be used by Save America’s Clocks.
The Owners tab was extended with city of owner.
The complete history of the Andrews clock from Tacoma was added. We knew this previously, but I hadn’t added it to the database because the clock never moved to Seattle. Because it already had a couple of entries in the database and I expect to extend the database to include all Mayer and maybe all Pacific Northwest street clocks, I filled this one out. It is now in New York
A number of entries for clocks at Colman Dock were corrected based on feedback from Paul. A few were added.
Entry 1367 was removed, which after looking at other contemporary views I determined to be a sign for a restaurant.
All Tacoma Public Library links were updated to match their new online archive.
- Details from E. Howard and Seth Thomas order books
- Remaining mentions of clocks in 1989 Seattle Times article
- Complete history of clock formerly at Legends Antiques
- Photographs that I’ve taken over the last decade
- Full history of the Benton’s Jewelry clock ownership
- Videos, including Evening Magazine, Steve Schmidt, and many from the National Archives that have been digitized by a reseller
- Various views in Seattle Public Library photos I missed previously
- Clocks profiled in the 1985 transit tunnel EIS
New clocks — no longer present unless specified as extant
- Clark’s (sign)
- Norseman Cafeteria (sign)
- Commercial tire (tower)
- Broadway State Bank (façade) extant
- University State Bank (façade) extant
- Diamond parking (sign)
- Bonney Watson Funeral Home (2) (tower)
- Bank of California (façade) extant
- Jak’s Grill (façade) extant
- Seattle Pacific University (tower) extant
- Boeing Field Administration Building (façade) extant
- Denny Hall (façade) extant
- Sears (tower) extant
- Druxman Ballard (façade)
Open Questions and To Do
- Did Suter (2) go to Dime & Dollar?
- Who really owned the clock at 715 1st Avenue in 1914, seen in entry 833?
- When exactly was the Pike Place Market sign clock installed?
- Review SDOT clock folder for exact date of 1928 or 1929 clock inventory.
- Review the meeting minutes of the Board of Public Works, particularly from 1900 or so until 1916. For installation by these jewelers: Burnett, Briggs, Finck, Shown, Sunde, Gates (1 and 2), Gilger/Silver/Fredrick, Kimura, Nippon Jewelry, Okasawa, Tipp, Wolfe
- Also review BPW minutes in 1954 during consideration of clock removal.
- Clock weirdness:
- Find photos of 1st Ave that show or don’t show Coast clock (gone by early 1970s)
- What happened to Friedlander (2), the 8-dial that was at 5th and Pine?
- What clock did Kimura have in 1924? When did it arrive and leave?
- What clock did Kimura have starting in the 1930s?
- What clock did Raphael have?
- What clock did Florsheim cut the head off of in 1940?
- Follow up on note “Municipal News in SPL mentions street clock 1912”
- When exactly was Jorgen Nelson (1) installed, why is there no permit, and why is 1918 so sparse for permits?
- Confirm that clock enthusiast in Seattle was middleman for Newport Beach acquisition.