Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Groundbreaking for the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works in Canton

Thanks for being patience as I continue to research and write my blog.  In this edition, I am sharing information from my presentation at the NAWCC Ward Francillon Time Symposium in Hebron, Kentucky, October 2011.

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 through 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 donated 20 acres of land for the new Dueber-Hampden Watch Works came from the Meyer’s family, known for the Meyer’s Lake and Amusement park.  Andrew Myer owned 3,000 acres of land (Haldi)
Because of his efforts, Dr. Dougherty helped double Canton's population in a decade. The population of Canton in 1880 was 12,250, and rose to 26, 189 by 1890 (Stark County Bicentennial Story).

During my research, 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 architects, 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 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. According to James Gibbs' book; From Springfield to Moscow: The Complete Dueber-Hampden Story, the almost completed south wing meant to house the watch works was completely leveled. Gibbs reports the company had no insurance for the $15,000 dollar loss (10).  

The factories were built in sections, the building housing the Hampden Watch works was built first—it was 575 feet in length—the Dueber Case Company was identical to the Hampden section, with the exception of its’ length which was 630 feet— John C. built the case factory on the north side some 57 feet longer than the watch building. The reason is that Dueber's affection was for the Case Works where he originally started and where his heart remained.
According to Gibbs the factories were an impressive three stories or the equivalent of what a 12-story sky scraper would equal.  In addition the functional clock tower stood 150 feet high.
The Case Works did not begin operations until a year after the Watch Works because it took nearly two years to move the machinery equipment and other supplies to Canton. Once operational the Case Works began producing 15,000 cases per week. After the first year the Watch Works was producing 600 watches with 1,000 workers. The net from both companies was close to $2,600,000 in 1890 (Gibbs, 13).

Collector Edward Thouvenin said the buildings were constructed north to south with a narrow width building and larger windows top to bottom so that those huge windows on either side of the factory could catch the east and west sunlight during the brightest part of the day, and then also be supplemented by gas lights.

 Something to think about ...
The following is from Dueber-Hampden Facebook Fan, Tim Elder, who is researching the statues from Dueber-Hampden Watch Works, that at one time stood outside the Lehman High School in Canton, Ohio (Stark County).  This adds another interesting piece to our Dueber-Hampden story.  

(left) Statue at Lehman High School, no shield, no sword, (top right) Dueber-Hampden Watch logo inside watch case, and (bottom right) 1913 photograph of Dueber-Hampden Employees, fuzzy statue in background.

Research and questions about Lehman's statues for Dueber-Hampden, by Tim Elder, 2012.

The discus thrower statues that were on abutments at each end of Lehman High School's football field concrete steps and bleachers originally came from the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works.   The statues were placed at Dueber-Hampden when the Case and Watch factory buildings were being built, but prior to this the statues were at the Dueber-Hampden Case Factory in Cincinnati, Ohio.  A good source to support this claim comes from, E.T. Heald's The Stark County Story, Volume II  (p.409): "The statues that used to adorn the entrance (of Dueber Hampden) now repose at the Lehman High School."  It was originally thought that the statues were obtained in memory of John C. Dueber, but they were at Dueber-Hampden much earlier than 1907 when John Dueber died.  This thought came from the Dueber-Hampden story by James W. Gibbs: "The only monument to his (John C. Dueber) memory that has been preserved are some statues that used to adore the main entrance."  If Gibbs' statement is correct, the statues were not obtained in John C. Deuber's memory, but were moved to Lehman High School to preserve his memory. 

Questions that Mr. Elder raises are:
ü  Where and when did Dueber-Hamdpen get the statues?  We do know that the statues were moved from Cincinnati to Canton, Ohio during the construction of the Watch Works in 1886.
ü  Question: When did Lehman High School get the statues?  Mr. Elder does tell us the statues were moved to the school when it was build about 1923, and the statues were there for the dedication in 1924.
ü  Question: But why were the statues moved to the school?  Was it to preserve John C. Dueber's memory, or his legacy in Canton, Ohio?
ü  Question: What about the abutments/pedestals that the statues rested on, were they part of the original design?
ü  Question:  The east statue was removed from Lehman High School around 1937, and the west statue was removed around (believed) 1950, why were they removed, and where are they now?

Mr. Elder has done some good research into the beginnings of the statues.  He adds that there is an architect's sketch in the book Canton compiled by H. R. Witter, published in 1922 before Lehman High School was dedicated, that shows that the steps extended one or two sections beyond the building on the west end.  Other photos show about 1/2 section, but Mr. Elder adds he has found no as-built photos,  Anyone out there have photographs of the old Lehman High School to share?  Especially of the statues.   

Dueber-Hampden Watch and Case Postcard advertisement
In the 1946 "Polaris" an aerial photograph shows a statue at only the west end, the east statue was removed much earlier.  A LHS's football great, said that one of the statues was taken down in 1938 because of a student prank (other source say statue already gone by 1937).  The prank--dressing (decorating) the statue in a jock strap, although this apparently occurred multiple times over the years.  Truly no official reason given for the removal of the statue, but if this was the reason, shouldn't both statues have been removed?  

Mr. Elder pointed out something interesting to me and my collectors. In a 1913 photograph of Dueber Hampden employees (copy in the Smithsonian Museum because it was the first panoramic photograph taken), there is a fuzzy statue in the background that verifies that the Dueber-Hampden statue had a shield.  He adds that the shield contained the Dueber-Hampden motto, "We defy competition," was removed before moving the statue to Lehman High School, and also the bottom circular base that contained the words, "What is worth doing is worth doing well."  Although Dueber-Hampden advertisement (above) show the statue holding a shield in its left hand and a sword in its right hand, when the statue was moved to Lehman High School, the statue had a collar around its left forearm, the remains of the shield. and the sword was broken off (photo collage above).  So although the Lehman High School students, and even I called the statue the discus thrower, the statues' right hands  never ever held a discus. 

Thanks Tim for bringing up some interesting questions about the statues from Dueber-Hampden.   This has given us more to think about.   


Elder, Tim, "D-H Statue as it was placed at Lehman High School."  Message to author, 14 Mar. 2012. Web.

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.

Gibbs, James W. From Springfield to Moscow: The Complete Dueber-Hampden Story. Revised Edition--supplement to the 1954 Dueber-Hampden Story. Philadelphia, PA: Supplement to the Bulletin of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc., 1986. Print.

Thouvenin, Edward, Personal Interview. 17 June 2010.


1893 map, J. Meyer's Heir's Addition. 1893. Map. Bob Dasco collection.
Canton Plate, No. 14. used with permission from Greg Farino collection. 
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.
Dueber-Hampden workers used by permission from The McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, Canton, Ohio)
Dueber-Hampden statues images used by permission from Tim Elder collection, and Taylor Rogers Facebook watch photo, 2011
Dueber-Hampden Watch company Trade card and advertisement images used with permission from the Edward Thouvenin collection.

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