Monday, December 2, 2013

A Curious Way to Indicate Location

The city clock has been located in the steeple of the First Presbyterian Church for more than two hundred years. A footnote in Franklin Ellis's History of Columbia County explains:
In 1801 (August 8) the council resolved "that Mr. Pratt and Reuben Folger be a committee to procure a suitable clock, with three dials, to be placed in the steeple of the Presbyterian meeting-house, and that they be authorized to procure a sum not exceeding $200 on loan for that purpose, to be applied with the sum already subscribed and now in the Bank for that purpose." That committee reported, Oct. 9, 1802, that they had placed the clock in the steeple, agreeably to directions. The cost of the clock and dials was $465.28.
The meeting house where the first city clock was installed stood at Partition and Second streets. In 1837, when the church moved to its new building at Warren and Fourth streets, the clock moved with it.

The tradition of the city clock being housed in the steeple of the First Presbyterian Church continues to this day. Earlier this year, the Friends of the First Presbyterian Church celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Seth Thomas clock that now tolls the hours from the church's soaring steeple. The fact that in 1913 there was a brand-new city clock may account for the peculiar way the proprietor of E. A. Dowling's Book Store describes the location of his shop in this ad, which appeared in the Hudson Evening Register in early December 1913.

The "Town Clock" not the imposing church building is cited as the landmark that will help holiday shoppers find their way to the store. 

This historic photograph shows the building in which E. A. Dowling's Book Store, "First door below Town Clock," was located. Today that spot taken up by a municipal parking lot.

Historic photographs from Historic Hudson's Rowles Studio Collection



  1. Example of civic pride - still maintained - other examples still exist - awaiting civic attention.

  2. Very interesting post, thanks Gossips.
    Do you know what happened to the original clock and why it was replaced in 1913?