The Willard brothers were the foremost family of 18th century American clockmakers, changing the domestic US clock marketplace with wooden ‘banjo’ clocks. Willard House and Clock Museum was the Willard family farm homestead.
The Massachusetts farm homestead was site of the original 1766 Willard brothers workshop. Between 1743 and 1755 Benjamin Willard Sr. and Sarah Brooks had four sons, Benjamin, Simon, Aaron and Ephraim. After the fourth son was born Benjamin senior apprenticed in the profession of horology opening a workshop at the farm.
All the sons learned the profession of horology dividing their time between running the farm and the workshop. All sons became clockmakers influencing each other. Once their clock making became more profitable they devoted their attention to their new profession.
Benjamin junior’s best clocks were tallong case clocks. Simon initially had a Tall Clock production but after his patented invention of the ‘banjo clock’, produced them solely. Simon preferred to build special clocks with historical significance. In today’s auctions Simons timepieces receive the highest prices.
The ‘banjo clock’ invented and patented by Simon Willard is an American wall clock with a banjo shaped case. It eliminates a striking mechanism indicating time by its hands and dial. Only 4,000 authentic Simon Willard banjo clocks were produced.
Aaron concentrated on production of the ‘banjo clock’, producing large quantities. The least known clockmaker of the brothers Ephraim has few of his clocks remaining today. Horology is defined as the study of mechanical time keeping devices. Individuals connected with horology are called horologists.
Willard House and Clock Museum opened in 1971 featuring the world’s largest collection of Willard clocks. The 1718 Joseph Willard homestead displays the 1766 Benjamin Willard Clock Manufactory with three modern galleries displaying over 90 Willard Clocks. The farmhouse has period room settings with family portraits and Colonial, Federal and Empire period rugs and furnishings. The house the oldest in Grafton built in 1718 is a restored saltbox farmhouse; residing in a rural setting amidst the center of a field, once part of the 18th century Willard farm.
Willard House and Clock Museum
11 Willard Street
North Grafton, MA
Friday and Saturday, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Sunday, 1:00 – 4:00 PM
Wednesday – Saturday, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Students over 13 & seniors $9.00
Children 6-12 $6.00
Children under 6 free
Grafton is a town of 17,765 just 5 miles southeast of Worcester and 30 miles west of Boston. The town is divided into North Grafton, Grafton and South Grafton.
Grafton is a 5:15 hour drive of 357 miles from Rochester NY. Drive east I-90 Thruway toward Boston and exit 11 onto route 122 for 2 miles, turn left onto Bridge street. Drive left onto route 140, right onto route 30, 3 miles turning left onto Willard Street following signs to museum.
A recent visitor made this comment
“We learned so much, that from now on, we will look at clocks with different eyes.”