The Winchester clock has sat perched just to the west of Keller Avenue between Center and Birch Streets. It is something both residents and visitors alike associate with downtown Amery. The current sidewalk project saw the removal of the clock and made for perfect timing to restore the monument.
The clock came to town thanks to the generosity of W.W. Winchester Sr., who owned ‘Winchesters’ Jewelry store for many decades.
Starting in the late 1800s, Winchesters was the place to go in Amery for pocket watches and clocks of all kinds, novelties, leather goods, Eastman Kodak cameras, and more.
The clock was first erected in 1918 as a way for Winchester to advertise his business, and was originally purchased for $992, a hefty price at the time.
In the days before digital, the clock became the standard of time in the community. The nearby depot clock was considered to be less accurate, as depot men kept time by their own railroad-inspected watches.
The Winchester clock, however, ran on weights and in summer months kept accurate time. Sources suggest that in winter, cold weather can threw the clock off by a few minutes, on occasion.
Winchester himself was well-known man throughout Polk County. He held the position of Court Commissioner for many years, and was a member of the county board. Winchester was a member of Amery’s council for many years and he also held the position of Mayor of Amery from 1936-1944.
Winchester received many offers to purchase the clock over the years, but eventually donated it to the City of Amery in 1943, without conditions. The donation guaranteed that the clock could not be sold to other parties.
After it was given to the city, a plaque was installed on the side of the clock which read: “This time piece presented to the City of Amery by Mayor and Mrs. W.W. Winchester, December 1, 1943, in gratitude for the respect and friendship enjoyed by them through their fifty years of continuous residence in this city.”
Current Mayor, Paul Isakson, and his wife Kate are paying for the restoration of the iconic clock. Mayor Isakson said the face of the clock weighs approximately 30 lbs. It was changed to an electric mechanism in 1943, which is the same face currently attached to the post. The company (Electric Time Company) that assisted with clock work in 1943 and 1995 is still in business and can replicate the face. LED lights will be added as well as parts to change the time from the base of the clock.
Josh Miller Sandblasting out of Forest, WI, will take care of the cast iron painting of the clock. “He does wonderful work,” said Mayor Isakson.
When it is finished, the clock will be put back in its original location.