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Courtyard Clock Again Keeping Time On Church Hill Road



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The courtyard clock in front of Bee Publishing Company’s office is fully functioning again thanks to recent visits by Kody Shafer, owner of Neon Spectacular LLC.

Scott Baggett of Bee Publishing said the clock, purchased from Thomaston Clock Company and installed at 5 Church Hill Road in July 1995, had too many concerns to ignore by late last year. There was a broken mechanism, foggy lenses, faded lettering, and bad lighting components.

“I went looking for Thomaston Clock Company and found it was long closed,” Baggett said.

“I started looking for someone who could repair our clock, and found an article about Kody and the work he did to repair the town clock in Ridgefield,” he added.

An iconic 14-foot tall clock donated to the Town of Ridgefield in the late 1950s had not worked for more than a decade before the Town hired Shafer last year. By August, the landmark had received a full refurbishment and was again keeping time.

Bee Publishing Company’s dual faced courtyard clock is just shy in size of the Ridgefield clock. The Bee’s verdin green clock, featuring roman numerals on its faces, fully measures 11½’ above ground. It is 2’10” at its widest point.

Shafer and Baggett met late last year and went over everything the clock needed to make it work properly and look good again. Before he committed to the full job, Shafer wanted to make sure the clock would work.

“The first thing I like to do is just get clocks running, and keep time,” Shafer said this week. “Then I’ll proceed with a full restoration.

“It was a little bit of a process, because I’d been out toward the end of the season to see the clock for the first time,” he said. “It was cold outside, but I got it running for them.”

Everything else waited until last month.

Shafer returned to Newtown on June 21. His work order this time included fixing the clock’s lighting, replacing both lenses, and replacing the original gold leaf lettering on the header.

The clock’s original glass lenses had been vandalized years ago. Their Lucite replacements did not fare well in full sun, which caused the lenses to fog.

The gold leaf lettering on the clock’s header had long faded.

Shafer began by dismantling the clock face and starting a good cleaning. He planned to be in town for just a day, but a big thunderstorm “sent me on my way Friday,” he said this week.

On Monday, June 24, Shafer again returned from Norwalk, where his business is located, and finished the work. He carefully wiped away the old lettering, then installed new vinyl letters before hand polishing the fiberglass surround.

New lights were added before the face of the clock was cleaned and reinstalled. A set of new lenses completed the restoration.

The following morning, Bee Publishing Company employee Brian Sacco made it even easier for passersby to once again admire the clock. Sacco spent a few hours that morning pruning trees in front of the newspaper building, clearing the way for the clock to be admired from the east and west.

Shafer’s work on clocks is a recent addition to his business, which specializes in neon, LED lighting, and various other signage mediums. He has worked with neon since he was a teenager, when he wandered into a neon shop along Route 66 in Albuquerque and became acquainted with its owner.

He then attended the University of New Mexico, while also apprenticing at Absolutely Neon with a master glass blower and electrician. After graduation Shafer moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. A job at Brooklyn Glass had him leading installations around the city’s art museums, flagship retail stores, and special events, according to his online bio.

He spent 16 months in Osaka, Japan, working as assistant to the owner of Yoshi’s Neon Studio. Shafer returned to the United States and launched Neon Spectacular in January 2020.

He has long loved neon clocks, he said this week.

“That translated into these other clocks,” he said. “They’re all very similar inside.”

He enjoys seeing the responses from clients and others when a clock begins working again.

“For some reason, clocks carry a lot of nostalgia for people. They make people happy,” Shafer said. “That’s what’s fun with working on these clocks — you’re bringing something back from the past. No one really expects it, but when someone like you guys comes around and says ‘Will you fix this?’ it sparks something in people when they get to see these working again.”


Managing Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at shannon@thebee.com.

By Tuesday morning, June 25, Bee Publishing Company’s courtyard clock was fully operational again.—Bee Photos, Hicks
Kody Shafer polishes the header on the east side of the courtyard clock in front of Bee Publishing Company’s office on June 24. Shafer spent three days repairing and restoring the Thomaston Clock Company timepiece that has been in front of 5 Church Hill Road for more than 25 years.
Neon Spectacular owner Kody Shafer says people feel nostalgic toward clocks. —Bee Photo, Hicks
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