Friday, June 02, 2006

Time to Remember

"Time to Remember," the Farrell Gay exhibit of memorabilia from the Illinois Watch Company, opened on June 1 with over 175 in attendance at the Iles House. The exhibit will be open for the public on Saturday from 10 to 4 and on Sunday from 12 to 4. Above are Farrell and Ann Gay, donors of the Springfield History Museum that forms the lower level of Iles House.

The Illinois Watch Company was once the largest employer in town and it influenced the growth of Springfield's north side. Founded by several prominent citizens in 1869, it manufactured watches until 1932. The factory building was a model workspace of clean, well-lit rooms and the company maintained an observatory for testing the accuracy of watches.

Curated by Ed Russo and Corine Fritch, the exhibit tells the story of a community enterprise that became nationally famous. Several attendees brought Illinois watches and remembered family members who had worked at the factory. One visitor displayed a watch made by her grandmother and bearing her inscribed initials.

This summer, Mr. Gay intends to invite relatives of those who worked at the factory for a special day of remembrance at the Iles House. We hope they will bring their own stories and memorabilia to share with those attending.

Story and pictures by Dick Hart.
For another account, see New Springfield by Larry Stevens.


BOB OWENS said...

Enjoyed learning of the Illinois Watche display. I'm a collector of Illinois watches, also a member
of the NAWCC.

My interest came from knowing that my mother Bertha Doris Wells (Owens) went to work at the factory. She come to Springfield From Williamsvile as a young lady.

I now have a expanding collection of six Illinois Waches plus 2 Elgins & 1 Gruin. I also have a Hamilton Sangamo electric mantel clock.

Well be in town for the weekend June 23 and will tsrsy to fine time to see this display.

Bob Owens

Anonymous said...

I went to see the Elijh Iles House not knowing there was a wonderful collection of watches in the basement. Farrell Gay was a wonderful tour guide and was very knowledgable on the watches and the history of Springfield. I enjoyed hearing there was once a grand company in Springfield called The Illinois Watch Co.

I have always enjoyed clocks whether they are small or large. I collect old travel alarm clocks, focusing on German made clocks. I have about ten in my collection so far....Bradley, Westclox, and Phinney-Walker. I also have a Black Forest Cuckoo clock made in Germany.

I definitely recommend anyone interested in old clocks and watches to visit this exhibit.

Kristin Reeves
Attica, IN