Town clock comes to East Stroudsburg in 1913

Sept - Hotel Fenner
A postcard of the Hotel Fenner from the collection of the Monroe County Historical Association. Although postcard is dated 1916, it doesn't show the clock that was installed in the tower three years earlier, fulfilling the dream of Samuel Fenner, who built the hotel but died in 1911.

By Amy Leiser, Executive Director
Monroe County Historical Association

On the morning of October 7, 1913, the residents of East Stroudsburg heard the ringing of the bell of their first town clock. The ringing they heard represented the culmination of a two-year effort to bring a town clock to the Borough of East Stroudsburg.

Town clocks were a source of pride for many communities, and a number of local businessmen and community leaders worked to ensure that this type of symbolic improvement could be secured for East Stroudsburg. Five members of the East Stroudsburg’s Board of Trade formed a sub-committee called the Clock Committee. The five members of the Clock Committee were Fred Wyckoff, T.Floyd Rhodes, E.L. Voss, John N. Gish, and Dr. W.F. Angle. These five gentlemen worked to find a location where a town clock could be erected.

The committee quickly turned its attention to the Hotel Fenner which had been built on the site of the Crystal Springs Hotel. The Crystal Springs had burned down in 1910, and Samuel Fenner purchased the property in 1911. There he erected a stone hotel with all possible modern conveniences and furnishings. The Hotel Fenner quickly became noted as “one of the best appointed (hotels) in the county.”

Samuel Fenner was born in 1838 in Delaware Water Gap to David and Jemima (Bartrow) Fenner. A private and quiet man, Samuel, at the age of 19, began working for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad station on Crystal Street in East Stroudsburg. He never married, and when the occasion arose to purchase the land where the Crystal Springs Hotel had been (only a few steps away from the train station), Fenner jumped at the investment opportunity. The property was conveniently located on the corner of Washington and Crystal streets in downtown East Stroudsburg.

Samuel Fenner built the Hotel Fenner with a tall, four-sided tower that was intended to house a large clock. The addition of the tower to the building cost Fenner an extra $1,500, but he always envisioned the site to hold a grand town clock. Unfortunately, Samuel did not live to see his dream realized. He passed away on November 14, 1911.

Two years following the death of Fenner, the Clock Committee worked with Samuel’s heirs to help finish the clock project. The heirs of the estate agreed to complete the project that Samuel had begun; they would finish the tower and place the town clock in it. One of the stipulations of the Fenner family was that the town clock had to remain in the building for a minimum of 15 years (if another tower were to be built by the town).

In June 1913, the members of the Clock Committee began to secure the funds necessary to install the town clock. Public fundraisers were organized, and donations from area businessmen and residents were secured to help defray the cost of the town clock. The Citizen’s Gas Company offered to donate the power that would be needed to illuminate the clock at night. When enough money was raised, the Clock Committee began collecting bids from clock companies. Bids were submitted by the Howard Clock Company of New York (which had installed the clock at the Stroudsburg Bank in 1895) and by the Seth Thomas Clock Company of Connecticut.

The winning bid belonged to the Seth Thomas Clock Company. On September 11, 1913, the new clock pulled into the train station along with Albert Winkler, the company’s clock technician, whose task was the installation of the new clock in the Fenner tower. Adolph Rake, a local contractor, brought in his team of men to assist Winkler with the project. The clock weighed 3,700 pounds, with the clock bell adding an additional 800 pounds to the total. The total cost of the clock project was $1,000.

The first hourly chime of the clock’s bell was at 9 a.m. on October 7, 1913. Citizens were very proud of their new town clock, and positive remarks abounded. Many felt that the town clock was a true “service to the community” and that having it was a great “convenience.” Editors from Stroudsburg’s
Monroe Record newspaper described the clock’s bell as sounding “mellow.” It also could be “heard plainly from almost any part of the borough, as well as this town.”

The town clock remained in the tower of the Fenner Building until 1975. By this time, developers had plans to raze the old Fenner Building, and East Stroudsburg Borough officials were prompted to take action to save the town’s clock. Today, the town clock that once perched in the tower at the Fenner Building sits atop the East Stroudsburg Municipal Building, where it continues to fulfill its duty as a clock for the community.