”The clock in Lytton Square … should not be abandoned by the city or be allowed to expire into a mass of rusted wheels and cogs,” wrote Joseph E. Regalia, president of the Mill Valley Association of Volunteer Firemen, in 1948 about the $1,300 clock his organization had donated to the city nearly 20 years earlier.
The letter, reported by the Mill Valley Record in 1948, marked the first of many attempts over the nearly 70 years that followed to save the four-sided clock at the northwestern corner of Throckmorton and Miller avenues. The historic timepiece was derided for much of its existence because of the inability of its four faces to stay in time, so to speak, with one another.
According to the Marin Independent Journal, then City Public Works Director Robert F. Smith announced in 1957 that “it would be junked because its four faces keep four different times,” residents like E.W. Bullard Sr. and Jr. (at right) stood guard to “save the clock,” partly because “Bullard Jr. found true love beneath its battered face and erring hands.”
In recent decades, the running joke was that you simply had to guess which side of the clock was correct, as they hadn’t all worked simultaneously for ages.
That changed this month, when City officials finished restoration of the downtown clock – just in time for Daylight saving time. The restoration was made possible by the Outdoor Art Club‘s issuance of an $11,000 grant in December to the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center‘s Enjoy Mill Valley Fund.
Donated to the community in 1929 by the volunteer firefighters, the clock was later repaired in 1956 after years of debate about whose responsibility it was to maintain the clock, which was subject to frequent stops due to power outages.
The Chamber established the Enjoy Mill Valley Fund in July 2016 with the cooperation of the Marin Community Foundation to work with local and county agencies and organizations to identify deserving, “shovel ready” local beautification and infrastructure projects that just need a little funding boost to get to the finish line. All donations to the Enjoy Mill Valley Fund are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.
The EMV Fund’s first contribution was $3,500 to the City of Mill Valley to help pay for the restoration of the replica Gravity Car on the Depot Plaza. The car is expected to return to the Plaza in the coming weeks. The Chamber has committed to support local civic projects on an ongoing basis, and a committee of the Chamber will recommend initiatives that allow residents, businesses and visitors alike to “Enjoy Mill Valley.” MORE INFO.