Noticing the Details of First Church: A Reflection of Observation
If one mentions that IBM once made clocks the response is likely to be “No they didn’t. International Business Machines was a serious company that made only computers and tabulating machines.”
Actually IBM did make clocks and we have two visible at First Church now. It started with the International Time Recording Company using Bundy patents of 1888. ITR joined the Computing Scale Company and the Tabulating Machine Company to form the trips-off-the-tongue name Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in 1924.
Fortunately for us it was re-named International Business Machines in 1924.That is where the Narthex clock comes in. It appears to have been made in 1924 as the clock face says International Time Recording Company and the beat scale shows the then-new ‘globe’ logo adapted at that time by International Business Machines. This is a ‘master’ clock that originally controlled all the clocks in CE Building. Master clocks were extremely accurate clocks that were electrically connected to the ‘repeater’ clocks in the classrooms. The repeater clocks were linked so that they were brought into time with the master clock regularly usually every hour.
As CE Building was constructed in 1955 this system must have been bought used. If you look above the door in each of the rooms visible is a little round socket into which the clocks were then plugged. Now mounted over the table in the Spencer House work room/ kitchen is one of the repeater clocks. Its dial is clearly marked IBM.
John Boulton found this one up in the attic brought it down cleaned it installed a modern movement and painted the scarred case. Everyone who went to school in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s would have seen similar repeater clocks in each room and may remember the occasional extra-loud ‘clunk’ when the clock was corrected to the master and the minute-by-minute progress of the hands as they stepped up each minute.
Little bits of history catch our thoughts as we think about our historic building built before central heating before a water-powered organ was acquired, before electricity was installed, before the horse stables were replaced by a parking lot, before Fellowship Hall, and before amplified sound. We are all eagerly looking forward to full in-person services so that we can see and touch these connections with Guilford people of an earlier time.
-Bob Howard and the Business Committee