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Project 049 ◄| Project List

FBG Project 049 - Appendix

Source: JDG-1

Simmons Hardware Co — The Clock Tower

The Simmons portion of the project was a four-story warehouse with a tall corner tower, a signature detail of most of the Simmons warehouses. Some were plain and some held clocks; this one was designed from the outset to hold novel, modern illuminated clock faces on the two outer corner faces.

The tower was originally designed to be one story taller than the four-story warehouse (a tall story, about 1½ floors), with a fairly plain design and a crenelated top, This was built and completed by the end of 1905. In April, one of the many running changes was to add another story (again, a tall one, making the tower about three floor-stories taller than the roofline), reportedly to hold a water tank. This extension was much more elaborate in design, but it is not clear if it ever held a water tank or anything else. A large water tank at the center of the building was a prominent feature for decades, with the base and support scaffolding remaining in place until the 2013-14 renovation. It may have simply been a pride or esthetic choice to extend the tower; the original design was between plain and ugly, and City Hall, within visual range, had a taller and more elegant tower challenging the new building.

The extension was complete when the clock faces were installed in November 1906. Several reports say the clock faces had the Keen Kutter logo across the center, and the numbers replaced (from 7 around to 5) by letters: T-R-O-Q-R-L-A-T-P-I-F, for the Simmons motto of “The recollection of quality remains long after the price is forgotten.” Even more bizarrely, for the remaining spot, the 6 was replaced with “8” because owner E.C. Simmons was known in the company as “No. 8.” Photos finally confirmed this, but with some variations over the years (see images below).

As for why E.C.Simmons was called “No. 8,” an answer was finally found: he signed documents with an “S” that looked to everyone like an 8.

The tower remains in original condition, but the crenelated top has been removed and the clock faces have been covered with Hard Rock Hotel signs.

  • Sioux City Journal, 17 Dec 1905. Note the finished tower without the extension:

  • Sioux City Journal, 17 Apr 1906:

  • Sioux City Journal, 14 Nov 1906:

  • Sioux City Journal, 26 Dec 1906. Note the extension on the tower:

  • Detail of the clock faces ca. 1906 (from NRHP report). The resolution of the image remains maddeningly unclear, and while the Keen Kutter logo can be seen, it is not clear if the markings are letters, or perhaps even on the brick outer ring:

  • The clock faces, 1919-1935. There is clearly no KK logo, the letter-markings are clear and the inside facades had only the large KK logos. It is evident that the clock faces were changed between the era of construction and before 1919. (Mysteries solved thanks to Sioux City Public Library!):

  • Hardware Dealers Magazine, Nov 1921:

  • Birth of a Salesman, Wm. Friedman, 2008, p.75:

  • Detail of the tower ca. 2005 (from NRHP report). Ordinary clock markings can clearly be seen on what must be yet newer replacement faces:

  • Simmons tower today:

shlb-tower.txt · Last modified: 2021/08/10 17:55 by therblig