Case Study
Pulaski Academy and Central School
Pulaski, New York

Many, many thanks to Bill Delaney for all his help in obtaining the clocks and information!

 

The Pulaski Academy and Central School was built in 1939 as part of the "war projects" of the time.  It originally housed the student population of grades K-12.  The building was designed by Howard O. Fullerton of Albany, New York.

Looking at other schools of the time designed by Mr. Fullerton, I've noted that he likes to put the clock and speaker at one end of the room instead of on the same wall as the entry door, as commonly found in educational buildings. A primary example is the building he designed in Jeffersonville, New York. It was built in 1938.

An annex was added to the end of each wing in the mid 50s, adding 8 classrooms, a cafeteria and a small gymnasium. The school is still in full use today as an elementary school.  There have been a couple of more major renovations, including the conversion of the bus garage (which used to sit under the main part of the school) into a cafeteria, a complete redecoration of the auditorium, and the relocation of office space to the old cafeteria in the annex.

The original clock system was a Standard Electric Time AR system (now AR-3).  Other Standard Electric Time equipment included a classroom intercom system and the fire alarm system.

The slave clocks used in most of the classrooms were unique units, since I've never been able to find another school with this type of Standard Electric Time slave. In talking with Jeffrey Wood, a Standard Electric Time Company historian, it seems that he's never come across the construction specs for this type of slave either.  It is very well possible that these clocks were constructed specifically for this school project.

Mexico Academy and Central School, built 10 years earlier (and rebuilt in the mid 1930s after a structural fire) in Mexico, New York, about 8 miles to the southwest of Pulaski, has a similar floor plan as this school.  Fullerton designed MACS as well. They also have clock and speaker units in their classrooms, but they are made by International (later known as IBM).  The clocks in that school are round in cases similar to those used at Pulaski.  The two clocks systems are not compatible with each other, as they used different correction methods.  I don't know if it was purposely planned to use the same type of clock-speaker unit.  However, a third school I've been in, Cassadaga Valley in Sinclairville in Western N.Y., has a similar floor plan and was originally fitted with Standard Electric clocks. Those clocks were not in the front of the room but generally rather on the same wall as the entry door.

A typical classroom clock.  For those that attended the school, this particular classroom is the first one on the right as you walk into the wing near the east entrance.  I knew it as Room 106, it's number is different now.

In most Standard Electric Time installations (as well as many other brands), clocks are installed over or near the door from the hallway.  However, in this school, the clocks are installed, for the most part, in the center of the wall on the right side end of the classroom as you're walking in from the hall.  There are two classrooms where the clocks are on the left wall, one in the original part of the building and the classroom next to it, which is in the annex.  I have no idea why the clocks in those two rooms were installed that way.

The basement classrooms, originally the wood and metal shops, later kindergarten rooms, have round clocks with separate speakers.  Except for one room, which has this style clock, mounted next to the door.  I don't know why there was a difference.

This picture was taken in 1998.

A close-up of one of the faces.  Notice that unlike the master clocks that have the same style face, these clocks have no "markers" for the individual minutes, only for the five minute or "number" intervals.  I had forgotten that fact until I was able to retrieve one of these clocks for my collection.
Here's me holding the clock so you can get a feel for the size.  The face (the clock's not mine) is a 12-inch face.  The numbers are the typical "art-deco" numbers that Standard Electric Time used in during that time frame.  The back of the clocks are marked "No. 1-AR-24V.D.C." and "DEC. 1939".  Behind the speaker grille is an RCA speaker with four wires coming out.  There is also a clock buzzer to signal class changes and to indicate an incoming call on the Standard Electric Time intercom phone.  (More on that below).  The hallways had two sets of bells, single-stroke fire bells and the smaller vibrating class change bells that were hooked up to the same circuits as the classroom buzzers.

The casing is made of oak, and the case is 2 1/8 inches thick.  The impulse mechanism is the usual AR type with separate correction magnet, the wiring is coated in rubber, not cloth.  The mechanism is in a "can", protecting it from dust, dirt, critters, etc.

This clock is in the gymnasium.  It is an 18-inch clock. There was one on each side of the gymnasium, a similar clock was found in the auditorium in the back over one of the doors. All of the clocks are flush mounted, I haven't come across any surface mounted clocks in the school.  If you look really close, you'll see that instead of the "Standard" logo as seen above, the older "The Standard Electric Time Company/Springfield, Mass." was written out.  This was not common on the "art-deco" style clock faces.

Also, the hands on the clocks were slightly different than on all of the art-deco clocks I've come across.  The "steps" on the hands are rounded off instead of square cornered.

This is what the mounting "hole" looks like when the clock is removed.
The original bell/signaling control board, with the one used in the annex mounted to the right.  Each row is a classroom or common room, and controls the buzzer or bell in that room.  The location of the peg determines what circuit the buzzer is going to be wired to, allowing different rooms to hear different bells.  When Pulaski Academy was K-12, the upstairs was used as a high school, and the middle floor was used as an elementary school.  Even though the whole school was on a common clock system, separate bell schedules could be used through the use of this board.

Up the right hand side of each panel is a push button so the bell could be manually rung in that particular room. 

I have a similar, but much smaller bellboard in my collection.

The intercom station.  Each spot on the board is a little window where a flag pops up when a button is pressed on the classroom phone.  I'm not sure that this was part of the same system used above, but Standard Electric Time did market this type of system during this time frame, so it's very well possible.  Unfortunately, there's no markings on this console.
The last master clock to run the Standard Electric Time system.  I believe this is the fourth master clock to be used, and this one is made by Rauland.

Unfortunately, I've only had yearbooks to go on for the first master clock, which was mounted in the largest "wooded" area.  It was a pendulum AR master clock with a face similar to the slave clocks used in the classrooms.  Judging from the bell board, it was probably a six signal circuit clock.

When I was in school here during the 1970s, there was a smaller, 1950's era AR-3 master clock in the darker "wooded" area.  That clock was installed some time between 1966 and 1971. There's a picture of a similar one on my "collections" page.  I know that master clock had a square face, because my six-year old mind at the time deduced that it had to be square to run the square clocks in the classrooms.  :)

Here's a picture of Mrs. Eleanor Youngs, Elementary School secretary around 1971 or so. Notice the AR-3 master clock behind her and the framing of the original pendulum master clock covered with the a piece of stained plywood. When Standard Electric Time (maybe Johnson Controls?) installed the new master clock some time between 1966 and this photo, they did a really good job at it. The original bellboard and the new one installed in the mid 1950s with the annex can be seen over the PA System.

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In the mid 80s, the master clock was replaced with an electronic Lathem 8-circuit master clock.  I had the opportunity to tinker a little with that master clock, as I worked for the school between high school and college cleaning classrooms and doing a little bit of maintenance. If I had disappeared somewhere, I was usually messing around with one of the clocks.

This master clock was installed in the mid 1990s.

A little blurry, but you can see the original pendulum casing around the existing clock, with the synchronous AR3 master clock mounting plate being darker in color.

The Lathem master clock that was used in the mid 80s and early 90s was much smaller than this Rauland clock. It was an LTR 384-6.

A couple of the other clocks from the school.  There are two NOT from the school in this picture, the one on the far left and the third from the left.

The clock second from the left was the type found in the annex classrooms, with 18-inch versions being found in the new cafeteria and the new small-gymnasium.  These utilized the "modern" face so common (and probably most remembered) to the Standard Electric Time products from the 50s and 60s.  The classroom clocks used the art-deco hands (the common square-off ones) in the classrooms.

The clock fifth from the left (with the older style numbers and hands) were found in the non-classroom areas (principal's office, library), the home-economics classroom, the original music room and the wood and metal shops (with the exception mentioned above).  In those rooms, a separate speaker was installed next to the clock.  The three square clocks on the right were removed from their wood casings for the new clock installation, as detailed below.

 

Here's a picture of what the new installations look like.  I give the school district many kudos for selecting a brand new impulse system.  Most new schools are utilizing the synchronous systems with sweep second hands these days, and this impulse system will give the kids the same feeling of anticipation we felt as we waited for the minute hand to click to recess time.

The slave clocks are made by Lathem.  They are 12-inch three wire clocks that work a little differently than Standard Electric 3-wire clocks.  They work on 24VDC as well, but will stop at :59 and wait for an impulse on the third wire.  During the 59th minute, a bunch of impulses are sent out on the second wire to catch up any clocks that are slow.  If the clock is right, it'll ignore the impulses because it's waiting for an impulse on the third wire.  Then an impulse is sent out on the third wire to take the clock to the top of the hour.

These are surface mount clocks that have been installed on top of the old casing.  I'm still a little baffled as to why this route was chosen, since the speakers aren't being used anymore, new speakers have been installed near the doors. Plus, metal cases could have been installed in the places of these, though that may have been a little pricey. However, I do appreciate the fact that the contractor has decided to maintain the unique case of the original clock.  Or it could be a case of economics.

One of the new Lathem clocks in the annex.  The speaker on the left, though disconnected, is part of the original installation in the mid 1950s. 

The classrooms that had separate speakers in the original construction of the school used similar speakers in design, but they were black and about 3 inches longer.

 

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