Back in April, I wrote my first Lost Chattanooga article, uncovering newly discovered history about the Fischer Evans clock. The story was a culmination of three months of research and a lot of amateur detective work.
Installed in 1883 by jewelers William F. Fischer and his brother, Lewis, the cast-iron post clock would stand on the southwest corner of Market and Eighth for nearly 29 years. A new replacement from the E. Howard Co. of Boston was erected in 1912, and most that remember will recall this iteration as the Fischer Evans clock. That clock was hit by a truck in 2002 and its head fell off its base, cracking apart on the sidewalk.
At the end of my article, I said that the whereabouts of the damaged head and face were still unknown. I also said: "There's a future for this clock. And for those who care and remember, stay tuned."
I have found what remains of the clock in a warehouse in Ohio. It’s been consciously stored at The Verdin Company—a bell and clock manufacturer that was founded in 1842. The clock was sent there directly after the accident.
As you can see, the clock is badly damaged. I admit that I gasped a little when I anxiously opened the photos in my email.
In my previous rally to return the clock to its orphaned base, I mentioned the overwhelming encouragement I’ve received during my journey to piece together its history. It’s clear that the Fischer Evans clock remains in the conscience of Chattanoogans—a lost icon that continues to be a catalyst for conversation, nostalgia, and shared memories of a once-societal and engaged downtown Chattanooga.
So what happens next?
The road to restoration has been barely paved. I’ve reached out to a local organization with initial conversations regarding the perpetual care of the clock. Their decision to take on that responsibility, as it should be, is mostly dependent on the support that I can amass.
In 2003, the estimated cost to restore the clock was just over $50,000. I now must call out to local companies and organizations to step up with an interest or call of duty and, at the very least, offer soft commitments to give or help raise the necessary funds to return the clock to Market Street. A restored Market Street clock is a significant landmark that Chattanoogans can have back, if they want it.
Straight-up, if you are a company, organization or individual who can commit to a $1,000, or more, donation toward the restoration of the Market Street clock in the next three to six months, please contact me at email@example.com. For this campaign to be successful, it needs a solid financial backing to move forward. If you know an owner or decision-maker of a company or someone in a leadership position of a local organization, please share this message.
Citizens of Chattanooga, you are not off the hook. If enough early support can be generated, a public crowdfunding campaign will be close behind—it will take both a private and public push to return the clock.
Don’t let this inestimable witness to Chattanooga history be forgotten. With so much recent talk and big initiatives aimed at the future of Chattanooga, let's not forget to honor our past.
David Moon is a marketing specialist and Chattanooga history enthusiast. This year, he started Picnooga, a historic image preservation project and Facebook page that digitally preserves and shares photos of Chattanooga’s past. Follow David on Twitter, like Picnooga on Facebook, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.