History Old Clock

The following has been summarized from the book "A Pictoral History of the House of Clocks and its Collections" (House of Clocks Press, 1965) which is available for purchase in the giftshop.

Margaux Brown was born in 1898 in Chicago, the only daughter of the well-known meat magnate, Hieronymus Brown. The story goes that she was given an antique clock (exhibit #1) for her 17th birthday, and from that day forward was fascinated by all things horological.

In 1920 her father died, and with part of her portion of the inheritance she bought the small brick building which was to become the House of Clocks.

The building which currently houses the collection was bought by Margaux Brown in 1921, and the original structure was much modified over the next thirty years, under her supervision, until it reached its present form. The most notable architectural features are the gate and gatehouse, the clock garden, and of course, the clock tower.

The gate and gatehouse, built in the early 1950s when the collection went on public display, are the first indications a visitor will have of the whimsical nature of Margaux Brown's aesthetic. They, and the wall, replaced the purely functional fence which had previously surrounded the premises. The gatehouse contains the only known mural by Janek Gzedan. Gzedan, an obscure American surrealist whose work has been compared to Boris Margo and Wojtek Siudmak, was a close friend of Ms. Brown's from the first day he set foot in Chicago.

The clock garden must be experienced to be fully appreciated.
The original landscaping was done by Ms. Brown herself.

The clocktower, which houses the Harding Clock (so-called because the figure which rings the bell at 3-hour intervals when the museum is open is said to be that of former president Warren Gamaliel Harding) was the crowning glory of the completed House of Clocks. It was designed by Margaux Brown herself, and contains nothing more outre than a small colony of bats. (Historians place little credence in the post-nervous-breakdown ravings of the architect who was involved in supervising its creation.) The significance of the teapot is not known.

In 1960, a group of academics from a variety of fields, were approached by the proprietor of the house to aid with the ongoing task of auditing the museum, and with the hopes of publishing an illustrated book describing some of the more interesting exhibits. The academics disappeared into the depths of the Storage and Containment room and the reports began appearing on the front desk. Since the initial audit and corresponding printing of the catalogue, other experts have joined the team and second, third and fourth editions can now be purchased from the giftshop. Most of the descriptions of the collections and exhibits are taken from the forth edition. These are just some of the highlights that curious visitors may want to examine at their leisure (safety equipment can be hired from the giftshop for a small fee).

clock 1
clock 2
clock 3
clock 4
clock 5
clock 6
clock 7