History of the Museum
On October 24, 1952, Edward Ingraham, president of E. Ingraham & Company, invited ten local businessmen to the "Town Club" (now the DuPont Funeral Home) in Bristol, Connecticut to discuss forming a clock museum.
Since Bristol had become an industrial town due to its designation as the world’s center of clock manufacturing, it seemed appropriate that a museum be formed to preserve the heritage of the industry for future generations. Although there had been discussion about renovating a home close to the Ingraham factory on North Main Street or constructing a modern facility located on nearby Rte. 6, the 1801 home of Miles Lewis located on Federal Hill was purchased and renovated for the museum. Except for the modification of the stairway for safety and the conversion of the carriage shed into an apartment for the caretaker, the original features of the Federal style house were retained.
The Bristol Clock Museum opened its doors to the general public on April 10, 1954. At the time of the opening, there were approximately 300 clocks on display and a small library containing 50 books. The collection grew quickly and by 1956 a new wing was added to the museum. Named the Ebenezer Barnes Memorial Wing, the addition was financed through the generosity of Fuller F. Barnes in honor of his ancestor, Ebenezer Barnes. The memorial wing was constructed using paneling from the homestead of Ebenezer Barnes, which is believed to be the first permanent residence erected in Bristol. The massive support beams used in this wing were once part of the Lewis Lock Company that was located in nearby Terryville. In 1958, due to the enlarged scope of the collection and the growth of membership, the name of the museum was changed to the American Clock & Watch Museum, Inc.
Continued growth over the next thirty years made it necessary to expand the facility once again and resulted in the construction of the Ingraham Memorial Wing in 1987. The additional 3,000 square foot expansion improved display capabilities and provided a gallery area for the museum’s gateway exhibit, "Connecticut Clockmaking and the Industrial Revolution." Future expansion plans include the incorporation of an adjacent museum property in order to offer additional display and research facilities, as well as larger spaces for public programming.
Visitors to the museum will find over 1,500 clocks and watches on display including advertising clocks, punch clocks, grandfather clocks, blinking-eye clocks, railroad watches, character watches, and even Hickory Dickory Dock clocks. While the museum is known to house the finest collection of American-made clocks on public display, its primary emphasis continues to be that of the Connecticut manufactured clock.