Published April 29, 2024

Case Clock Turns Back Time at Corydon Capitol

Corydon Indiana Clock Full View
A beautiful, tall case clock made in Corydon around 200 years ago has recently returned to its original home at the Corydon Capitol State Historic Site.

This clock is said to be one of two case clocks that originally stood in the State Capitol building when it was used as the Harrison County Courthouse after the state’s capitol changed to Indianapolis in 1825. While there is no documentation, the clock’s time and place of manufacture support the theory that it stood in the original Indiana Capitol.

“It is difficult to find pieces from the early years of Indiana’s statehood with such strong provenance and connection to place,” said Susannah Koerber, Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites (ISMHS) chief curator and research officer. “We are delighted that John Petticrew’s work can once again be seen in Corydon.”

The clock features scrolled woodwork encasing the pendulum, gold hour and minute hands, and a lunette meant to track phases of the moon. Shells decorating each corner surrounding the face and sailboats painted on the lunette gives the clock a nautical feel.

The oceanic theming may point back to the clock’s creator, John Petticrew (or Pettigrew) who immigrated to Pittsburgh, Pa., from Europe — most likely from Scotland. From there, he moved to Corydon and worked in the community from around 1823-30. He signed his clock’s face “John Petticrew/Corydon/Ind.”

After the clock left Corydon, David Steward, an antique dealer from New Albany, took it in for several decades before it was acquired for the ISMHS collection.

We called on Michael Ruzga, a conservator from Fine Arts Conservation, Inc., of Cincinnati, to clean the clock’s face, refurbish the enamel, fix corrosion issues, and clean and rotate the frame that clamps down the glass in front of the clock’s face.

Finally restored and returned to its original place, the clock now stands in the Gov. Hendricks House, and Corydon’s tour guides proudly point it out to visitors during guided tours.

“It is a goal for most museums or sites, to have original-to-the-site antiques or artifacts in their collection on display so that any visitor may see, and perhaps glean insight into that museum’s interpretive period or original occupants,” said Kelly Hanna-Carroll, Corydon Capitol’s site manager.

“It is especially exciting when a notable piece … is returned ’home’ after being elsewhere, in private hands, for so many years.”

Corydon Indiana Clock Face
Corydon Indiana Clock Movers
Corydon Indiana Clock Restoration