that coincided with the mill’s dominant role in a new industrial order.”147 By the 1870s, the corner clock tower would become a feature of industrial complexes such as the large Manhattan works of R. Hoe & Company. 148
By the late nineteenth century, the clock was influencing the day-to-day activities of New Yorkers as it never had before.149 Americans were becoming “increasingly attentive to and accountable for living and work- ing in synchronized ways,” according to historian Carlene E. Stephens, and developments like the 1883 creation of time zones with the institution of Standard Time indicated that they were doing so.150 But the inex- pensive watch had yet to arrive, so most Americans depended on a patchwork system of time balls, factory whistles and bells, and timepieces displayed in the windows of jewelry stores to stay on schedule. 151
They also depended on the publicly visible clocks that proliferated after the Civil War on the facades and towers of factories, commercial buildings, banks, railroad stations, courthouses, and schools.152 These clocks, some publicly owned and some private, provided a valued service; the dedication of a new town clock could be cause for celebration with “music and cannon,” and the failure of a clock that the public relied upon could inconvenience people in myriad, unexpected ways.153 More than this, these clocks symbolized “regular- ity, coordination, order, permanence, and reverence for the machine,” according to historian Alexis McCrossen, who says that they were “at the heart of modernity and the modern nation state.” Companies that erected clocks for public use “reassured the public that [they] were regular, dependable, and punctual,” assert- ing their importance within the public sphere;154 they also often used their clocks for direct marketing advantage. In 1880, for example, when the Washington Post installed a new public clock at its headquarters, it crowed on its front page about making its building “useful as well as ornamental,” affording “the Post another opportunity of serving the public.” By the early twentieth century, clock makers marketed their products with the promise that they would attract the public’s attention—that they would be visible “from more than one thousand doors and windows”—and public clocks did become important local landmarks that were closely associated with the companies that owned and maintained them.155 It seems likely that the clock tower of the Estey Piano Factory was intended to brand its company as an important, publicly minded member of its com- munity, while drawing frequent attention to the firm’s name, which was spelled out boldly on the tower and within the clock faces themselves.
The original portion of the Estey Piano Company Factory is an excellent example of the American round-arched style. This style was a domestic interpretation of the German Rundbogenstil, which developed in the 1830s and 1840s, “synthesized classical and medieval architecture—particularly the round-arched elements
of those styles—and relied on brick and locally available stone,” according to Bradley.156
Despite its name,
buildings constructed in the American round-arched style, like the Estey Factory, often mixed economical segmental-headed window openings with round-headed ones, permitting the style to “express many of the ideals of the engineering aesthetic.”157 They also utilized corbelling, patterning, and other forms of decorative brickwork, like the round arches of the Estey Factory’s clock tower, to model and bring variety to their fa- cades, and had parapets that varied in height and often featured pediments, bringing additional visual interest.
Additions to the original Estey Piano Factory complemented A.B. Ogden & Sons’ building and, through 1909, continued to draw upon the American round-arched style. John B. Snook & Sons’ 1890 addition ex- pertly harmonized with the 1886 building, featuring brick, terra cotta, patterned brickwork, and stone trim, all of which matched the original; the expanded south façade terminated in an eastern, three-bay projection that echoed, in its fenestration and ornament, the clock tower at the façade’s western end. The two-bay projection that had terminated the south façade of the original factory was doubled to four bays, becoming the central feature of the imposing, 200-foot-long, Bruckner Boulevard façade that remains largely intact today. On the Lincoln Avenue and north facades, the first three stories of the additions dating from 1895 and after feature segmental-headed window openings, corbelled brick below the window sills, and patterned-brick stringcourses that are similar to those of the Ogdens’ building. The two-story, 1919 addition at the northwest corner of the building features large rectangular window openings with concrete lintels, filled with pivoting and fixed, multi-pane metal sashes that are typical of the “daylight factories” that appeared in the United States after the turn of the twentieth century. Daylight factories, which represented an effort, at that time, to bring additional natural light to the work floor, proliferated following the introduction of steel-sash windows by several Ameri- can manufacturers around 1910. While the Lincoln Avenue additions do not complement the original factory as adroitly as the Bruckner Boulevard addition, they are significant in telling of the evolution and growth, over several decades, of an important Bronx firm that was engaged in an industry of local and national significance.