Library's long-dormant 1904 clock wakes up

An antique grandfather clock – sitting dormant for years at the Fond du Lac Public Library – got a gentle jolt back to life this winter. The stately clock sits near the fireplace on the first floor. When crews moved the clock to make way for new carpet earlier this year, something magical happened. It came back to life.

The clock, made by the Tobey Furniture Co. of Chicago, was donated to the library in 1904 by Mrs. Harriet G. Steenberg in memory her late husband, Orrin C. Steenberg, an early Fond du Lac educator and longtime member of the library board. Library board President Frank B. Hoskins formally accepted the clock at the Oct. 5, 1904, Carnegie library dedication. He said, “It shall have a home and an honored place as long as these walls stand.”

Many years later, and many years ago – no one is quite sure when – the clock stopped working. Regularly, patrons would ask why such a beautiful piece wasn’t kept in working order. Several times over the years, directors would get estimates for the repair, but each balked at the sky-high price tag.

“We were very careful when we moved the clock for the new carpet,” said Assistant Director Lori Burgess. “Something must have come unstuck. The pendulums are swinging, the chimes are sounding again and it’s keeping good time. It’s really remarkable.

“We hope it runs for another 114 years, and then some,” she said.


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