For the remainder of the school year, fourth graders will help Head of School Larry Van Meter manually wind the grandfather clock in Stokes Hall once a week. Unveiled in 2009, the Hollinshead clock was built over the course of five years by Mr. Van Meter and a small group of students in the MFS woodshop.
“A couple of years ago I explored with [the late Fourth Grade Teacher] Margaret McKee the idea of having fourth graders wind the tall clock,” said Mr. Van Meter. “When I have wound the clock in the presence of kids before, they were always intrigued by the weight-driven mechanism and the idea that the clock uses no electricity. Thinking a lot about Margaret caused me to remember this idea. She thought it was a neat idea.”
To learn about the mechanics of the clock and their responsibilities, both fourth grade classes met with Mr. Van Meter to understand the piece’s interior components, but also to hear the interesting story behind the Hollinshead clock.
The clock is nearly an exact reproduction of an original Hollinshead clock that is on display at the Smith-Cadbury Mansion, the headquarters of the Historical Society of Moorestown. Morgan Hollinshead, a Quaker, was a local maker of grandfather clocks circa 1775-1832, and his shop was located just outside where the current Meeting House stands. Today, a historical marker on Main Street identifies the building’s former spot.
Although the woodworking proved to be extraordinarily challenging and more time-consuming than anticipated, the project served as a lesson on craftsmanship and resilience for the students involved. Crafted in black walnut wood and boasting traditional decorative features such as bracket feet and crown molding, the traditional Hollinshead clock will continue to offer its beauty and functionality for years to come at MFS, standing tall in Stokes Hall.