"Walls" Unit

While working in Huntsville, Texas in 1988 on a set of Deagan Tower chimes, I was contacted by the warden of the Texas Department of Corrections. He invited me to inspect the Seth Thomas tower clock located in the attic of the main building, known as the "Walls" unit, named, aptly, for the high thick brick wall surrounding the prison. I was escorted by three guards through the prison to the access area for the clock.

The clock has been severly modified in an attempt to electrify it. There is a bell located in a belfry on top of the building but not visible in any of my photographs. The unit sits in the center of the attic and drives two dials by means of very long shafts suspended on roller hangers from the rafters of the attic. The second dial faces the exercise yard for the prisoners. The clock was not functional when these photos were taken.

The "Walls" Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections was built in 1942. In actuality there had been a prison on the site since before 1900. This building was simply an addition. General Manager of the prison system at the time was D. W. Stakes. The building housed "Old Sparky", Texas' electric chair.

Devoid of most of its gearing, pendulum and cables, the Seth Thomas has been painted a very untypical yellow color instead of the "John Deere" green most often found. Note the two horizontal shafts at the top of the picture heading toward their respective dials.

Electric gear motor on the striking side of the clock. Note one of my "escorts" in the background, a prison guard.

View looking through the attic to the dial facing the street.

Copyright © 2002 Ed Gaida's Automatic Music. All rights reserved.