Saturday, May 29, 2010

Groundbreaking for the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works...1886

In my last blog I talked about how to understand your watch by looking at the serial number and characteristics. Robert "Bob" Arnold dropped by Canton during his visit to the Cleveland clock and watch show this month. Bob will be part of our event, "Spending Time with Dueber-Hampden," on August 10 from 3-7 the Hoover Historical Center in North Canton, Ohio. If you want a chance to meet someone who is absolutely an expert in Dueber-Hampden watches, I hope you can drop by with your watches.

Breaking ground for the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works, was an important time for Canton. When the great Watch Works began putting down roots in October 1886, Canton began changing too. Stark County's largest industry from the late 1880s until World War I would be the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works. This giant Watch Works would create a building boom in Canton that would spawn eleven different lumber yards (Heald, v4., 144).

John Walter's newly created construction business was happily charged with framing the roofs, and truss works for the behemoth Dueber-Hampden Works. Some of Walter's other endeavors included building a bridge across Meyer's Lake (Heald, v4, 298).

The Dueber-Hampden Watch Works plans called for two buildings. The Hampden Watch Works would be on the south side and the Dueber Watch Case Works would be to the north. Six million bricks were shipped to Canton from Zanesville, Ohio, 1,000,000 would be used for the face walls. The offices would be in the central part of the building, and these structures would rise 142 feet high--that was the equivalent of a 12-story skyscraper. The turrets would be 100 feet high from the ground up, and the stack would be 150 feet high. The crowning jewel would be the great clock tower, with its four faces. This clock tower kept time for 60 years (Heald,v2.,171-172).

I spoke with Canton native Richard Haldi, a local historian who volunteers with the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum. He often speaks to local groups about the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works. Mr. Haldi said that the original plans for the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works called for two additional buildings situated next to the original factory (near the trees in the artist's rendering of the plans shown above), the second set would mirror the original Works. But just like now, there was a recession and the second set of buildings was never started. (Haldi) (also noted is the misspelling on this original drawing)

Guy Tilden, one of Canton's top architect, was commissioned to build the south part of the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works. Just a few days before the Watch Works was to open, a cyclone moved through the area, and ripped the factory apart. John Dueber asked Mr. Tilden to reinforce the building columns and John Dueber further instructed that much of the decorative pieces on the building were to be taken down. The image above shows Dueber-Hampden employees surveying the damages from the storm just days before the Works would open. In the years following, Mr. Tilden remained one of Canton's most important architects whose signature buildings helped to define Canton's skyline.

Dueber-Hampden also played a part in changing the religious influence of Stark County. The Zion Lutheran Church, established at 901 Dueber Avenue SW in 1895, came as a direct response to the growing population on the west side, and following the building of the Watch Works (Heald, v4, 400).

To serve the growing West side Methodist population, the Dueber Avenue Methodist Church was established (Heald, v4, 403).

I had the pleasure of meeting Harriet Flaugan (left) and Dot Trimback (shown in the photo above). These sisters live in Malvern, Ohio and spent a Sunday afternoon telling me about their father who worked as a watch maker at the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works. Mrs. Trimback said, "Dad would work all day on watches, and then come home and spend the night working on watches in a little room upstairs. "

Their father, Mr. Raymond Weber, was invited to travel with the company to Russian but declined because he felt his children were too young. When their father didn't go to Russia, he worked at various jewelry stores including Kaufman's in Pittsburg, before returning to Canton to work at George Duebles' until he retired. The smaller photo shows Dot (left) with Harriet and their mother Selma Silvest Metz Weber.

Harriet Flugan is Beth Pearce's mother, and Beth is married to my former boss from 20 years ago, Gary Pearce. It was nice to catch up.

The image (below) looking west on Tuscarawas Street shows the mood of the city as Dueber-Hampden comes to Canton in 1888.

More to in Canton as the Watch Works builds

If you found this interesting, please consider joining us on Dueber-Hampden Facebook, or tweeting the link


Haldi, Richard. Personal interview. 10 Mar. 2010.

Heald, Edward T., ed. The American Way of Life in Stark County, Ohio 1917-1959. Vol. 2. Columbus, OH: The Stoneman Press, 1959. 171-72. Print.

Heald, Edward T., ed. The American Way of Life in Stark County, Ohio 1917-1959. Vol. 4. Columbus, OH: The Stoneman Press, 1959. 144-403. Print.

Trimbach, Dot, and Harriet Flugan. Personal interview. 14 Mar. 2010.


Hampden Watch and Dueber Case Works used with permission from the Richard Haldi collection.

Dueber-Hampden Watch company building and cyclone images used with permission from the Edward Thouvenin collection.

Dot Rrimback Selma Silvest Metz Weber, Harriet Flugan used by permission of Beth Pearce

Dueber-Hampden's came to Canton, used by permission from The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, Canton, Ohio

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