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Tower clocks at the Central Park Arsenal and Brick Presbyterian Church

Jeremy Woodoff

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We visited two New York City clock towers last week and saw two nearly perfect old tower clocks, both decommissioned and replaced with electric movements. What a shame and disappointment! The Arsenal is a building near Fifth Avenue and 64th Street at the Central Park Zoo. Built in the 1850's, it pre-dates Central Park and is now the headquarters of the NYC Parks Department. The clock tower first appeared in either the late 19th or early 20th century (see first picture). The old wooden turret was replaced with a brick one in 1934 (second picture). There is a single glass dial facing the zoo and interior of the park. I remember the small Howard movement working about 20 years ago; it seems complete and received the electric movement about 5 years ago. The electric movement is not working.

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Brick Presbyterian Church is at Park Avenue and 92nd Street. Built in 1939-40, it is the third building and third location for this congregation. The Seth Thomas records indicate that the clock is a "No. 16 automatic power wind hour striking tower clock mov't." A hand-written note in the records says "movt, Hands & dialworks only." The date is given as Sept. 1939, the same as a plaque on the movement. It appears to me that the Seth Thomas clock is older than that, and that the date refers to the moving of the clock from the earlier church and its modification to fit the new location in the new church. Was S. Thomas still manufacturing mechanical movements of this type at such a late date? The bell probably comes from the congregation's first church, as it is marked "G. H. Holbrook in Medway, Mass. in 1824." The new movement was installed about two years ago, is electronically operated, and includes an electronic carillon. I'm not sure if the new mechanism operates the original bell for the hour strike. Once again, the old movement appears to be perfectly serviceable.
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Reaching the clock tower of this church, which was built in the era of building codes and safety standards, is much easier and more pleasant than at others we've been to.

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This is the electric movement at the dial level. All that's missing from the original clock is the shaft leading up from the movement below.
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An unexpected treat was this grand hall clock (not working) in the foyer of the parish house.
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GregS

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Jeremy, sorry there have been no replies but I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to post these wonderful photos and sharing your experiences. Cheers! Greg
 

PatH

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Thank you for sharing these wonderful images - and for taking the time to visit the sites, navigate the sometimes challenging ascents, photograph each item and provide explanations that help tell the story. What a treat for everyone who may not ever get to see one of these pieces of history in it's original home. What a pity that the original movements were not restored, but at least they have not been destroyed as so many have.
 

Jeremy Woodoff

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Thanks, Greg and Pat, I appreciate your responses!
 
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