Jorgen Nelson Street Clock Restoration Project

Kitsap County Historical Society

Street Clock Dedicated November 2, 2001

The restored clock in front of the Kitsap Museum 

280 4th Street Bremerton, WA.

The dedication ceremony with, left to right, Jorgen Nelson, Mayor Lynn Horton, Paul Middents and the clock in the foreground. Just one year after removing the clock from its original location on Pacific Avenue it reappears in honor of the Bremerton Centennial as an expression of confidence in the future of this city.  Major financial support for the restoration was received from the Bremerton Central Lions Foundation, Helen Langer Smith, The William Gates Sr. Foundation, Dick Eskridge, Paul and Ellen Middents.

 

 

In the fall of 2000, Jorgen Nelson of Bremerton, WA. donated his street clock to the Kitsap County  Historical Society.  Several local members of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Chapter 135 (Tacoma) undertook  the complete restoration of this clock.  The chapter has donated $250 to the project. The project has the enthusiastic support of the Mayor of Bremerton. Bremerton Public Works removed the clock from  its Pacific Avenue location and provided  storage for the big pieces and a work area for the restoration. Paul Middents of Silverdale coordinated the project. 

 

 

 

   In 1928 Jorgen Nelson Sr. installed a street clock in front of his jewelry business on Pacific Avenue Bremerton, WA. This clock was made by the Joseph Mayer Company of Seattle, WA. The clock appears through the 1930's in its original elegant form with gold finial on the top and electric lanterns on either side. The clock became an integral part of the downtown Bremerton scene. 

In about 1940 the clock assumed a more modern form as seen above. The finial and side lanterns were replaced by a large art deco sheet metal top with a neon sign spelling out JORGEN NELSON around the top of the dial. Jorgen Nelson Junior continued the business at the same location until 1987.  He reduced the scope of the business and moved to smaller quarters around the corner on 4th St. and in 1998 he retired completely. Through the years, Jorgen kept the street clock wound and running. A bird's nest was removed from the art deco "top hat" about 15 years ago and some openings in the head of the clock closed with sheet metal to discourage future attempts at habitation. At the same time, Jerry Martin, a tower and street clock specialist from Port Townsend, WA. overhauled the movement and motion works. One of the milk glass dials had developed a  crack and was replaced by a plastic dial. This replacement matches the original on the other side very well. Dale Brittingham of Brit's Signs Bremerton, WA. restored the dials. He is the last of the real sign painters in the Bremerton area.  

 

 

The movement was beautifully restored by Leon Jaussaud of Timely Investments Inc. of Port Orchard. He donated all the labor and materials for this effort. The unrestored movement is on the left and the restored movement on a test stand is at right.  The motion works, below, normally invisible behind the dial exhibit the same high quality and superb finish as the movement. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jerry Martin street and tower clock expert from Port Townsend, WA assisted the restoration effort with expert advice, tools and special dollies. He has donated a superb reproduction winding crank. 

Dale Gerber of Kitsap Gold Plating and Powder Coating, Poulsbo, WA.  donated the entire powder coat finishing process.  This has resulted in a beautiful, almost porcelain like surface which will not fade or oxidize for many years. On the left we see him loading the finished pole.                                           

 

 

 

 

 

The case of the clock was completely disassembled into six major pieces. On the right we see Terry Ayers, Leon Jaussaud and Ralph Peel studying a very rusty saddle and pole. Great effort was required to separate the saddle from the pole shown below. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restoring the clock to its original appearance  required the replacement of the top finial and the side lanterns.  The owners of an identical clock by Joseph Mayer in Pioneer Square gave us permission to use parts from their clock as patterns. They were represented by Rosemary Rice of  Pioneer Square Properties.  On the left we see the Pioneer Square clock in late July 2001 after replacing the left hand lamp bracket and the top scrolls and finial. These had been removed in March so that patterns could be made for copies. Paul Middents, left and Leon Jaussaud, right,  have become very familiar with the portable scaffolding behind the clock. The City of Bremerton loaned it  and they have had it up and down five times in the course of this project. The lamp bracket on the left was rusted together and badly cracked. Doug Barley of Barley Machine Shop in Bremerton disassembled and weld repaired this bracket. 

 

Peter Langley of Port Townsend Foundry,  right, with the copy of the top finial. This and the scrolls on either side are made of a urethane plastic. The side lamp brackets are made of aluminum. Peter also made a copy of one window frame in aluminum. Very intricate pattern making and molding was required to make these copies which are of superb quality.  We now also have patterns from which further copies can be made. 

 

 

Ernie Lopez shown at left applying gold leaf to the finial, had the vision to see the need for this clock to make a real statement. After all, that is what the clocks were meant to do originally. Dick Peel of DPA Signs, Seattle, WA donated much of the gold leaf. Ernie applied over 2300 individual 23 kt. leaves to this clock.  One of the dial bezels can be seen on the table. Les Johnson, The Glass Man of Port Orchard, WA donated the labor and most of the glass for the clock. 

 

 

By early October all the bits and pieces had come together and the final fit up could proceed. On the right we see Terry Ayers fitting the new finial and scrolls to the head of the clock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The morning of October 23 dawned bright and clear as the Bremerton Public Works Department under the direct supervision of Operations Manager Bob Tulp started the erection process for the clock. Erection was complete on a not so bright October 25.

These wonderful period globes came from a street clock in the Seattle area and were in the collection of John Rigalli, well known clock collector in this area. Rigalli had worked for Mayer Brothers jewelry and watch wholesalers, closely associated with Joseph Mayer the manufacturer of this clock. The globes were donated by Dave Hong of Duvall, WA.  in memory of John. 

 

 

 

 

 

Here Jorgen Nelson is seen winding the clock for the first time after the movement was installed. 

 

  Recently John Moeller has donated his clock on Callow street to the KCHS. We will be undertaking this restoration and returning the clock to its Callow Street location. Tax deductible contributions may be made to the Kitsap County Historical Society designated for the John Moeller Clock Restoration Project.

 

 

For further information contact the coordinator, Paul Middents at pmiddents@charter.net

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