New England Chapter No. 8 NAWCC

Annual Symposium



Highlights by Mal Greene

Burt Kassap, Chapter 8 1st Vice President and Bob Frishman, Past President welcomed 38 guests to the Chapt. 8 Annual Seminar. The topic was "CLOCKMAKING IN RHODE ISLAND" from Claggett to Durfee.

It was held at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, R.I. adjacent to the Brown University campus. The RISD museum has a collection of 80,000 antiquities, Asian artworks, painting, sculptures, prints, textiles, decorative arts, and Rhode Island clocks.

Thomas Michie, decorative arts curator, welcomed the group to the RISD Museum.

Dennis Carr, doctoral candidate in the History of Art at Yale University spoke on the history and craftsmen, many who made clock cases, of the Narragansett Bay Region. He also spoke about early clockmakers as William and Thomas Claggett.

Paul Foley, who has been researching early banjo and New England clockmakers since 1972 gave a presentation "Unique Banjo Timepieces of Rhode Island". With material from his recent book a 358 page history of the weight driven banjo clock. He also went into details about the Willard Patent Time Pieces.

Owen Burt has published numerous articles in the NAWCC Bulletin including his article "Walter Dupree, His Clocks, His Chimes, His Story". A NAWCC Director for 4 years and President of the association in 1985-1987. Owen pleased his audience with his presentation "Walter Durfee: father of the modern grandfather clock".

A luncheon was served followed by a tour of the RISD Museum.

A splendid job and great appreciation to Bob Frishman and Burt Kassap and the others that contributed to this seminar.

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Annual Symposium


224 Benefit Street, Providence RI, 401-454-6500,


This year's educational symposium targets the clockmakers of Rhode Island. In preparing for this event, we came to realize that little about this subject has been studied or published, especially compared to the well-known Massachusetts and Connecticut makers. At the world-class RISD Museum, we will have an opportunity to view some fine Rhode Island clocks as well as hear from scholars who are working in this area.

At just $55, the registration fee includes museum admission, curator gallery tour, all the illustrated lectures, and a catered box lunch. The RISD museum, with a collection of over 80,000 antiquities, Asian artworks, paintings, sculpture, prints, textiles and decorative arts, is located on the edge of historic Providence adjacent to the Brown University campus.


9:00 a.m. Welcome by Burt Kassap, Chapter 8 First Vice President, and Bob Frishman, Past President.

9:15 a.m. Welcome and Introduction by Thomas Michie, Decorative Arts Curator, RISD Museum.

9:45 a.m. New Research into Colonial Rhode Island Furniture and Clock Making.
Dennis Carr will discuss an ongoing Yale University study into the surviving colonial records of Rhode Island. These have yielded much new evidence about the early furniture makers of the Narragansett Bay region and have revealed a surprisingly large number of craftsmen and a range of influences on their work. The talk will focus on these craftsmen, many of whom made clock cases, and will present new information about such early clockmakers as William and Thomas Claggett and James Wady.

10:30 a.m. Unique Banjo Timepieces of Rhode Island.
Paul Foley will present material from a chapter of his important book, "Willard's Patent Time Pieces", about the distinctive form of banjo clocks made by David Williams of Newport 1815-1830. Close study of these time pieces reveals many deliberate differences between them and those of the Roxbury and Boston makers of the same period.

11:15 a.m. Walter Durfee: Father of the Modern Grandfather Clock.
Owen Burt will talk about this famous Providence clockmaker who reintroduced the tall-case clock to the American public after a 50-60 year hiatus. He will cover Durfee's beginning as an antiques dealer and his rise to a full-time manufacturer of hall clocks by the age of 30 in 1888. This venture, and the production of banjo clocks as well, earned him national recognition for the next 20 years. Reasons for the current popularity of Durfee clocks will be covered in depth.

12 noon Luncheon.

1:15 p.m. Guided Tour of the Museum.
Tom Michie, curator, will lead our group and pay special attention to the important Rhode Island clocks on display.

2:00 p.m. Concluding Remarks.
Participants then may freely tour the rest of the museum galleries.


Thomas Michie is Curator of Decorative Arts at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, where he has worked since 1984. A graduate of Williams College, he holds an M. Phil. Degree from Yale University in the History of Art. A contributor to museum collection and exhibition catalogs at RISD, Harvard, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the U.S. Department of State, he has published articles on historical American furniture, silver, wallpaper, architectural pattern books and the China trade.

Dennis Carr is a doctoral candidate in the History of Art at Yale University. He is also contributing to a study of colonial Rhode Island furniture makers organized by Patricia Kane at the Yale University Art Gallery. This Fall, he is a Research Fellow at Winterthur.

Paul Foley, now retired from a 25-year career as an FBI special agent, has been researching banjo clocks and New England clockmakers since 1972. He published his major 358-page history of the weight-driven banjo clock in 2002 and continues his study of this important field of American horology.

Owen Burt, since joining the NAWCC in 1970, has published several articles in The Bulletin including his unsurpassed December 1981 piece, "Walter Durfee, His Clocks, His Chimes, His Story." He served as a NAWCC National Director for 4 years and as President of the Association in 1985-1987. Currently he is a member of the Answer Box team and is researching all the known novelty clocks produced by the E.N. Welch Manufacturing Company.

DIRECTIONS: From I-95, take Exit 22 to downtown Providence. Continue straight on Memorial Boulevard, turn left onto Waterman Street at the third set of traffic lights. Halfway up the hill, turn right onto Benefit Street. The Museum is on your right.

PARKING: There is limited street parking. The Metropark at the corner of N. Main and Steeple Streets offers half-price parking to Museum visitors with stub validation.

Reservations and Questions to:
Bob Frishman, 53 Poor St., Andover MA 01810

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Chapter Contacts:
If you any of you have a question or wish to contact someone in the chapter, get in touch with any of these four and they will get your message to the right person if they cannot help you.

President Dave Deutemiam
81 Kingman St., Lakeville, MA 02347

1st Vice Pres. Burt Kassap
112 Bullough Park, Newtonville, MA 02460

2nd Vice Pres. Harold Lincoln
5 Ringbolt Road, Hingham, MA 02043

Treasurer Wayne Paskerian
5 Warren St., Winchester, MA 01890

Secretary Mel Greene
Post Office Box 365, Tweksbury, MA 01876

Past President Bob Frishman
53 Poor St., Andover MA 01810


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