Special submission by Ken Little
Have you noticed a new sound in DeFuniak Springs? The First National Bank clock at the corner of Baldwin Avenue and 7th Street is now back in operation. The clock which has great sentimental value to many residents of DeFuniak Springs was restored to service at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010 after many years of inactivity and deterioration.
Restoration of the clock was a two-year long project begun by the Walton County Heritage Association. Conceived by local heritage enthusiast Dennis Ray, a search was started for some way to restore the clock. Anticipating a huge expense in this, Heritage Association member Terry Dawkins had a great idea for a Take Stock in the Clock fundraiser. Stock certificates were “sold” to subscribers with a different twist – the clock would be restored and operating by Dec. 31, 2010, or the subscriber would be refunded their money. A total of 34 individuals, couples, and organizations contributed a total of $3,715 to this campaign. Among the groups contributing to the Take Stock in the Clock campaign was the White Sands Chapter of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors in Pensacola, some of whose members are also members of the Walton County Heritage Association. Jim Gramlich of Pensacola, an active member of the Watch and Clock Collectors group, offered to restore the clock as a personal project. Mr. Gramlich had successfully restored a number of antique and unique clocks, and was intrigued that the DeFuniak Springs clock still had all the original clock mechanism intact. His generous offer to restore the clock at no cost was a godsend as the lowest bid from clock restoration firms was around $8,000.
The project received enthusiastic support from the city of DeFuniak Springs and the Walton County Commissioners. Ownership of the clock is mixed. The clock was placed in service by the First National Bank of DeFuniak Springs in 1924. Following the purchase of First National Bank by Century Bank, then by Sun Bank in the 1970’s, the clock was abandoned when Sun Bank moved to a new location away from downtown. The bank building was purchased by the county for office space and records storage. The Office of the Public Defender now occupies the front part of the building. The tower clock is considered to be owned by the city of DeFuniak Springs as it sits on city right-of-way….
Read the full story in the December 23, 2010 edition of the Herald Breeze.