LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) – Since the 1920s, an electric clock has adorned the sidewalk along Douglas Avenue in downtown Las Vegas. That is, until 2013, when strong winds broke the clock free from its base.
Thanks to the hard work of many people in the community, the clock has now been restored and returned to its home near the intersection of Douglas Avenue and Sixth Street.
The clock – originally manufactured by Brown Street Clock Co. of Monessen, Pennsylvania – was first installed by jewelry store owner R.G. Gordon in the late 1920s, according to historical information provided by the Las Vegas New Mexico Community Foundation. The jewelry store was later purchased by Calvin Baker Sr. and his wife, Alnita, and the clock bearing the Gordon’s Jewelry name continued to greet customers for decades.
Baker’s son, Calvin “Rusty” Baker Jr., eventually took over the business, but in 2013, he decided to close the store and sell the business’ assets, including the clock, which had become an iconic downtown fixture by then.
Longtime Las Vegas resident Bob Mishler, a former New Mexico Highlands University professor and founding chairman of the Las Vegas New Mexico Community Foundation, feared the clock could be sold to someone who would move it from Las Vegas. Determined to keep it a part of the Meadow City, Mishler purchased the clock.
The clock had been saved, and it graced the streets of downtown, until a powerful windstorm toppled it in February 2018, said Elmo Baca with the Las Vegas New Mexico Community Foundation.
The windstorm left the clock unstable and in danger of falling so city crews removed it from its cast-iron base for safety reasons. With the clock gone, Baca and many people in town felt Las Vegas had lost a key part of its history.
“It was such a visible landmark on Douglas Avenue for nearly a century, and I think it’s one of those icons of the community that everybody remembers. If you grew up here, you always kind of tipped your hat to the Gordon’s clock or checked the time,” Baca said. “When it was missing, it was like a little piece of Las Vegas was also missing.”
After it was removed, the clock was taken to Mishler’s home. He began replacing components, such as the interior motor. He planned to restore the clock to its full glory.
Mishler died last May before restorations could be completed and before he could see the clock returned to Douglas Avenue. Mishler’s estate donated the clock to the Community Foundation, and the board took up the restoration effort.
“The board of directors decided to complete the project as kind of a memorial to Bob, and also to restore it to its rightful place on Douglas Avenue, which was Bob’s intention,” Baca said.
With the help of community members such as Philip Martinez from Franken Companies, Sapello Sign Co. and artesian welder Manny Lujan, the clock was restored to working order and recently returned to its cast-iron base.
Installation of the restored clock was done in two phases, with the control panel and wiring in the cast-iron base being completed before the clock was reconnected to the base. Cindy Walker with Medicus Medical Billing and Consulting has agreed to supply the electricity needed to run the clock, ensuring it will greet visitors and locals for years to come.
“I hope it will give the community some pride,” Baca said. “And especially during the pandemic, some hope that things are improving and that we have a brighter year ahead.”