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Susquehanna Life

Clock Museum Gainst Gift of Time

Sep 19, 2014 01:59PM ● By Erica Shames

The National Watch and Clock Museum just added another piece of Lancaster County history to its collection of more than 12,000 pieces. Donated from the County of Lancaster, the Eberman tower clock has now found its home at the Museum in Columbia, PA.
John Eberman Jr. was the only Lancaster clockmaker known to have made tower clock movements. Eberman operated his shop in Lancaster from 1772 to 1807, where he mostly made 30-hour and 8-day time-and-strike tallcase movements constructed in the English tradition.  There are actually only three known Eberman tower clocks that still exist today: the Lancaster County Courthouse clock (now in the Museum’s permanent collection), the Moravian Congregation church in Nazareth, PA, and the Moravian church in Lititz, PA.  The Lititz clock was destroyed in a fire, and only a few pieces remain.
Originally, in 1772, Eberman was tasked with maintaining the tower clock of the county courthouse, which was possibly made by his master, Rudy Stoner.  In 1784 disaster struck; a fire of unknown origin broke out and destroyed the building.  Once the courthouse was rebuilt, Eberman was commissioned to replace the tower clock.  Then in 1854 the courthouse was replaced by a new, larger building on the northwest corner of Duke and East King streets, and the clock was moved into the new building and equipped with a new bell.  The clock movement was replaced in 1898 with one made by Seth Thomas, and Eberman’s movement was installed in the Lancaster County Heritage Center in the city’s Center Square.
In 2012 the National Watch and Clock Museum was honored to receive the donation of the tower clock now on display in the Museum’s rotunda.  Phase one of the clock’s display is completed; the next phase will be to put the clock in operating condition. 
“The National Watch & Clock Museum is honored to be able to publicly display this incredibly unique Lancaster County artifact. Not only does it represent one of the earliest examples of this type of clock in Pennsylvania but its local significance and unbroken provenance make it a significant horological object,” shares Museum Director Noel Poirier.
“The Eberman/Lancaster County Tower Clock project was a wonderful opportunity for the Museum to partner with other local entities and supporters, such as The John Frederick Steinman Foundation and Lancaster County Timber Frames, Inc., to create an appropriate display that captures the spirit of the era in which the clock was originally built. Additional technical and financial support of members of the NAWCC’s Tower Clock Chapter were essential to ensuring the clock is displayed in a manner that will permit us to run the clock in the future,” said Poirier.
For more program information, directions, or general Museum information, call 717-684-8261 or visit our website at

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