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Tick-Tock: O’Hurley’s General Store gains a piece of Shepherdstown’s history

By Staff | Nov 23, 2018

O'Hurley's General Store Owner Jay O'Hurley stands beside his recently acquired grandfather's clock, crafted in the 1800s by Shepherdstown clocksmith Jacob Craft. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — “My grandfather’s clock was too tall for the shelf, so it stood 90 years on the floor. It was taller by half than the old man himself, but it weighed not a pennyweight more,” quoted O’Hurley’s General Store Owner Jay O’Hurley, as he explained the significance of the most recent addition to his store — a Jacob Craft grandfather clock.

Although O’Hurley had not been looking for a clock made by the famous Shepherdstown clockmaker in the early 1800s, when he was told by a friend about the clock being available for purchase from its previous owner several months ago, he saw it as an opportunity to add to the historic artifacts that make his store appear like a small museum.

“It found me. I always thought it would be nice to have one,” O’Hurley said. “I fantasize having a mini-Shepherdstown museum. and I have two or three things that were made by Shepherdstown craftsmen, 200 years ago: Richards padlocks — I have on of his padlocks; I have a fifteen cent certificate issued from a bank in Shepherdstown, Virginia.

“In my travels, I come across a lot of unique things. O’Hurley’s is open seven days a week, so people can come in any day and get a small glimpse of Shepherdstown’s history,” O’Hurley said. “Someone may be wandering through my place, not even looking for history, and may find some of this stuff interesting.”

When O’Hurley purchased the clock, he knew it would take some work to restore it to its original condition. The previous owner had inherited the clock, and had sawed off the ornate scrollwork on the top of the clock, to fit it into his home. The clock itself had stopped working while it was in the previous owner’s possession, according to O’Hurley.

“Robert Braun had to refurbish it, the top had been cut off so it could fit into a low-ceilinged living room. Robert Braun is the best antique furniture restorationist I know. He does work in the area, and he rebuilt the top of it that had been cut off. You couldn’t even tell that it had been removed,” O’Hurley said of the scrollwork, mentioning the clock itself was repaired by a clock shop in Hagerstown, Maryland.

According to O’Hurley, one reason the clock is significant, is because of its place in local history, having been crafted by the clockmaker from his storefront on German Street. Another reason the clock is valuable, is that no two Jacob Craft clocks are alike, with each clock’s scrollwork being unique, or even gilded with precious metals.

With the clock repaired, O’Hurley now has it prominently displayed for public viewing in his store’s “great hall.”

“Now it is ready for the world to look at it,” O’Hurley said.