Thomaston (Google Maps location)
A strange thing has happened in two newer (ca. 2021) Connecticut breweries on the northern Route 8 corridor: They’ve included museums. Now, I’d like to think both Bad Dog Brewing in Torrington and Clocktown Brewery in Thomaston has done this for one reason: me.
That’s right. Me. The only person in the history of the universe who set a goal to visit and write about every museum and brewery in their state. A person who loves getting “two-for-one” visits for his little website.
The only small problem with that absurdly egotistical idea is that the people responsible for the museums in the breweries have no idea who I am. (I have a more realistic, though overly cynical thought that by adding a museum they can claim some sort of non-profit status and that helps them financially somehow, but I don’t think that’s the case. I just think two newer breweries separated by one town and 20 minutes are located in buildings with interesting histories and the owners wanted to honor those histories.)
Clocktown Brewing is located in a section of the former Seth Thomas Clock Factory. The brewery has a full service kitchen, a large outdoor patio, and has done a fantastic job making itself not look like an abandoned factory on the inside.
The Clocktown Museum occupies about 36 square feet of wall space in an out of the way corner. The entire museum consists of 9 original Seth Thomas clocks and a sign noting that this is, indeed, a museum. And I’m somehow going to get 700+ words out of this, aren’t I? (Yes. Yes I am.)
George LaCapra owns the building and has another business located within it. He is very aware of the Seth Thomas legacy – which, duh, he named his brewery Clocktown in a town named for the famous clockmaker and has horology motifs all over the place and for a while named all his brewery’s beers after some clever time or clock pun. Co-founder and co-brewer Ed Daigneault told me that LaCapra has many more Seth Thomas clocks in his possession, but isn’t sure the museum will be expanding anytime soon.
Seth Thomas Clock Company was one of the most prolific and long lived clock companies and their clocks were always considered some of the highest quality in America. Thomas was born in Wolcott and though he barely attended school, he became a skilled carpenter and went to work for Eli Terry, the nations leading clockmaker at the turn of the 19th century. After a decade or so, Thomas struck out on his own and founded his clock company.
Where? Right here along the Naugatuck River. He was immensely successful; moving from grandfather clocks to shelf clocks. From wooden movements to brass – thanks to the Brass City being next door. His clocks were always popular and to keep up with massive demand, the Seth Thomas company spawned dozens of other industries and factories making parts for his clocks.
After his death in 1865, his sons continued the business and brought it into the 20th century. The styles produced expanded to every type of clock imaginable at the time. The company expanded into watch, alarm clock, and marine clock production, and made the famous tower clock in Grand Central Station. The Seth Thomas Clock Factory building that stands on Main Street in Thomaston was built around 1915, and was severely damaged in the Flood of 1955. Eventually the company was bought by the General Time Corporation, which itself was bought by a series of other corporations. Operations ceased around 1980, but the name Seth Thomas lives on in the quality of his clocks.
And now, you can visit the 9 clock strong Clocktown Museum on the wall of a brewery in a town named for the clockmaker in the factory his sons built at the same place the founding father first started his business.