It took a long time. 

That’s how the owners describe the process of finding, recovering and restoring a century-old clock once mounted to the corner of a downtown office building. 

But time stood still for a few hours on Sunday when Main Street was shut down so a crew could return the restored timepiece to its original location on the historic Rand Building at 110 E. Houston St. 

The clock, manufactured and sold by O.B. McClintock, went missing sometime after 1936, the last time it can be seen in old photographs of the building, said Katherine Fontenot, director of construction for Weston Urban, which owns the Rand.

The four-sided clock made of stained glass and copper first appears in photos of the 1913 Rand Building in the 1920s. 

Made by the same company as the clock on the nearby Municipal Plaza building at Main Avenue and Commerce Street, the timepiece was likely installed around the same time. The building was once home to Frost Bank.

It is unknown when or why the Rand’s clock was removed or where it went. But the building’s owners wanted it back. 

“We love to embrace all the historic things in downtown San Antonio, especially our little parts,” Fontenot said. “And we wanted to give the community back this beautiful clock.”

When Weston Urban set out to bring the clock home, it had not traveled far.

Photograph shows the office building and department store (Wolff & Marx) on south side of Houston Street, between Soledad and Main. Clock on corner of building (lower right).
The clock is seen on the corner of the Rand Building when it housed the Wolff & Marx Co. department store. Credit: Courtesy / UTSA Special Collections – San Antonio Light Photograph Collection

Local antique collector Dan Judson had spotted the clock mounted to a club in Northwest San Antonio, Fontenot said. It had been modified with a billiards-and-cocktails motif. 

“The clock is priceless,” Judson said. Knowing its value, he tried unsuccessfully to acquire the clock when it was initially removed from the Rand.

Then it was sold to the club owner, and there it “languished outside without being maintained to the point where I was surprised that it can even hold its own weight,” he said.

At one time, Judson offered the owner $55,000 for the clock but walked away from the deal when the price inexplicably went up by $10,000.

Knowing Weston Urban wanted the clock, he led them to it in 2020. “It was hanging in plain sight,” Judson said.

After a long negotiation with the owner, Fontenot’s work crew was able to uninstall the clock in 2021 and send it for repairs. That took a team effort, she said. 

Far-flung restoration

Fontenot enlisted the New Braunfels-based architectural signage company U.S. Signs for help in restoring the clock face and installing LED lighting. 

U.S. Signs called upon Whitworth Stained Glass of New Braunfels to rework the heavy leaded stained glass panels and Ted Voss Metals to restore the copper casing. Electric Time of Massachusetts has worked to get the clock ticking.

“We had them redo the clock controller so that it would actually tell time again,” Fontenot said. “There are only a couple of places in the country that can do a controller for that type of clock.”

Until Sunday, parts of the clock were spread across the workshops of each company, coming together only for the installation. 

“It’s a very orchestrated process but it’s because the clock is so heavy with all of those parts of pieces on it,” Fontenot said prior to the clock being installed. “And if you transport it loaded down, there’s a good chance that some stained glass could break.”

The McClintock clock has its origins in a banking protection company and the McClintock-Loomis Co. of Minneapolis, which was in business for only nine years, from 1908 to 1917. 

U.S. Signs team members Mark Bauer (in the lift), Ty Weaver (left) and Lydell Toye (right) work to prepare a century old clock for installation on the side of the Rand Building Sunday.
USSign team members Mark Bauer (in the lift), Ty Weaver (left) and Lydell Toye prepare the century-old clock for installation Sunday on the side of the Rand Building. Credit: Bria Woods / San Antonio Report

In that time, the company managed to install clocks in cities across the country, from Port Townsend, Washington, and Rockland, Maine, to Fort Myers, Florida, to Corpus Christi and San Diego, according to commercial clock supplier Lumichron.

The company marketed its product to the bank customers it already knew well, advertising with the tagline “We sell to but one bank in each city or town.”

With the departure of Freeman Loomis from the company, O.B. McClintock sold clocks under his name until 1950, when it was acquired by Diebold, maker of bank vaults at the time. Parts later became difficult to find, and many McClintock clocks fell into disrepair, stated Lumichron. 

8-story ‘skyscraper’

The Rand Building also has a history that goes back 120 years, and stories of the property where it stands date to the earliest days of San Antonio. 

Photograph shows Stowers Building partly visible on left.  Intersection of Main Avenue (center) with Rand Building on southeast corner and Houston Building on southwest corner.  F. W. Woolworth Co. on far right.
Sunlight shines on the Rand Building, with the Stowers Building partly visible on the left and the Houston Building on the right. Credit: Courtesy / UTSA Special Collections – San Antonio Light Photograph Collection

The land was owned starting in the 1700s by early settlers Javiera Cantu de la Garza, widow of Geronimo de la Garza, according to a state historical marker on the building. 

A 1913 newspaper article describes an “old Garza group of buildings that stood for more than two hundred years at the head of Houston street” that was torn down in 1912 “to make room for the splendidly equipped modern skyscraper which Edwin Rand, present owner of the property, has erected.” 

Designed by architects Sanguinet and Staats of Fort Worth, the Rand was built in 1913 for the department store Wolff & Marx Co. The steel frame, 8-story “skyscraper” is made of concrete, red brick and terra cotta in the Commercial, or Chicago School, style. 

Wolff & Marx closed in 1965 and the Rand Building became an office tower. The Conservation Society of San Antonio helped save it from demolition in the 1980s and Weston Urban acquired the property in 2013. 

The building now houses the tech incubator Geekdom, Pabst Brewing and other businesses. A Chick-fil-A restaurant will open there later this spring.

Fontenot said it was clear where the clock was originally attached to the building — and while turning back the hands of time to recover it was a challenge — the clock is finally back where it started.

This article has been updated to correct the location of the U.S. Signs firm.

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Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.