Clock museum begins campaign to expand

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Clock museum begins campaign to expand
Beverly Snow, program coordinator at the Willard House and Clock Museum, chats with a visitor during an open house on April 27. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

GRAFTON – It was indeed a time to celebrate.

On April 27, the Willard House and Clock Museum on Willard Street held an open house and kicked off its campaign to grow its endowment, currently at $1.8 million.

The goal is $5 million, which will help support the growth of the museum. Once the goal is reached, it will receive an additional $1 million – and 90 timepieces – from the collection of Houston resident Charles N. Grichar.

Although Grichar was not present at the event, the museum’s executive director and curator, Robert C. Cheney, told visitors of the friendship that has endured for more than 25 years.

“It’s been a real joy on this adventure,” said Cheney.

Cheney – an expert on timepieces – spoke of showing Grichar how to purchase antique clocks and watches, especially those made by the Willard family.

Grichar’s collection includes clocks made by the Willards and their apprentices, about 300 high-grade gold pocket watches, wristwatches and astronomical regulators.

To house such a collection, the museum plans to design a larger space, which would include proper storage, a small auditorium, a horological library, conservation workshops and more.

Donations, no matter how small, may be made to the museum via www.willardhouse.org.

In addition to the fundraising kickoff, the open house featured live music, colonial reenactors and a chance to see the museum’s collection.

“The weather was with us,” said Beverly Snow, the museum’s program coordinator.

Photos of some of Grichar’s collection stood in most of the first-floor rooms, including the workshop and dining areas.

In the barn, Hat Trick performed classic rock and Cajun tunes; the band donated that day’s tips to the museum.

Inside the main clock display, the Blackstone Valley String Duet performed classical tunes, often to the accompaniment of the clocks’ chimes that announced the hour.

In addition to timepieces, the museum features a collection of portraits of the Willard family; documents; tools and scientific instruments.

The museum is currently open Thursdays-Saturdays, with tours at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Closed Sundays through Wednesdays, and holidays.

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