Elmer O. Stennes, Weymouth, Mass. A Pillar & Scroll Shelf Clock with a brass constructed, 8-day, spring wound, time and strike movement. 220108

This fine example is in excellent original condition. The wood, consisting of the feet, scroll work, horns and returns are all original to this clock and retain a pleasing original finish. The front of the clock is fitted with a door. The lower section is decorated with a reverse painted tablet. This glass is original to this example and is in excellent original condition. Colorful floral themes dominate the panel. And oval area in the center is left undecorated in order to view the brass faced pendulum bob. The upper section of the door is fitted with clear glass. Through this one can view the dial. This dial is steel and is paint decorated with traditional themes. Florals, gilt work and a time track are are included in the dial design. This clock is fitted with a brass geared German made movement. It is designed to run 8-days on a full wind. It also features a strike train so it will strike the appropriate hour on a gong rod mounted inside the case. Elmer Stennes’ label is pasted inside the case on the backboard. This is also in excellent condition.

This fine clock was made circa 1960 and stands approximately 27.5 inches tall, 17.25 inches wide and 4.5 inches deep.

220108.

About Elmer Stennes of Weymouth, Massachusetts.

For 30 years, from 1945 through 1975, Stennes was famous for being the only large-scale reproducer of classic American clock cases in the country. But his former friends and associates remember him for another reason. Elmer killed his wife and later was himself killed. In fact, it’s hard to say whether the clocks and other items made by Stennes are so collectible today because of their quality or because of his notoriety. He lived at 45 Church Street in East Weymouth, Massachusetts, in a house he built himself in 1938. He used a design by Royal Barry Wills, the 20th-century American designer of reproduction Colonial-era dwellings. (So, the house, like his clocks, is a facsimile.) It is a classic two-story cedar-shingle Cape Home.

Elmer Osbourne Stennes was born in Somerville, Massachusetts, on June 9, 1911. He was self-taught as a cabinetmaker, and received a certificate for completing a one-year course in Carpentry and Architectural Drawing, from Wentworth Institute in Boston in 1934. He also worked in the Model Shop in the Quincy shipyards during WW-II. Stennes made his mark as a case-maker for the clocks he sold with his name painted on the dials. His production was significant as compared to others that were not set up as a factory with employees. He made a variety of forms. These included the Willard style time piece or banjo clock, a copy of Lemuel Curtis’s girandole, several shelf clock forms, tall case clocks which he called grandfathers, grandmothers and an in between size he designed and dubbed the Wessagusset. The name Wessagusset is the Native American name for the Weymouth shore. Elmer was a good marketer and his clocks were sold nationwide through the contacts he made as a member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC). Stennes began making his cases full time in 1945 when he left the model shop at the end of the war. He did not manufacture the movements. At first, he used movements from what was then common clocks. Soon he had to find another more reliable source and used good quality reproductions. By 1959, he built a barn to set up his workshop. He told people his shop was located on Tic Tock Lane. Elmer’s second wife was Eva G. Annanis. They had two children, son Elliott and daughter, Ester. Eva died on December 2, 1968, as a result of an argument., Elmer took out his .357 magnum derringer and shot one bullet into Eva’s head. She dropped and died on the bathroom floor. Elmer reportedly called the Weymouth police himself. He was arrested in his home and later released on a bond of $25,000. It was business as usual until his trail. During this period, he branded his clock cases with the initials, “O.O.B.,” to signify his new status Out On Bond. Stennes pleaded not guilty to murder, but admitted guilt to manslaughter and was sentenced to seven years. His term was to be served at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute Plymouth -a minimum security prison. The retired Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Massachusetts, Judge Steadman was Stennes’ personal friend customer and counsel before the crime. He had purchased a cherry-wood grandmother clock and Elmer had made him a gavel for his bench. Stennes entered prison on October 24, 1969 and took over the maintenance cottage, moved in and set up his personal machine and hand tools and began making cases using inmates as helpers. One could argue that he was using prisoners, at the expense of Massachusetts taxpayers, to make his products. These were stamped “M.C.I.P.,” the abbreviation for “Massachusetts Correctional Institute Plymouth’ which was actually in Carver, Mass. After having served only three years and three months, Stennes was paroled on January 12, 1973. He later remarried on December 15, 1973. Her name was Phyllis Means. On October 4, 1975 the couple was shot while they were sleeping in their downstairs bedroom. Two men broke into the house, Elmer was shot five times. Phyllis was shot six times. When the police arrived, she was covered in blood and was screaming that Elmer was dead. Phyllis accused her 24-year old step son Elliot of being one of the shooters. She had seen his face, recognized his clothes, and heard his voice say, “Dad.” Elliot had five witnesses testifying that at the time of the shooting he had been with them at a bar in Franconia, New Hampshire. As a result, the charges were dropped. There were other considerations, however, the case of Elmer Stennes’s death has never been solved.

I would like to thank David Howard with helping me get this Stennes bio correct.

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