Family donates historic clock to library

Apr. 2—DANVILLE — A piece of history was returned to the Danville Public Library on Monday in a special dedication for the donation.

Chris Fitzsimmons, widow of Steve Fitzsimmons, and Steve's cousin Beverly DeBarba, both of Danville, were on hand for the presentation of a clock that Steve had repaired.

Steve, who died in 2022, was known locally for repairing antique clocks.

The Danville Public Library received the donation of a Seth Thomas Office Calendar #13 clock, a clock that was original to the library's beloved Carnegie Library location next door in 1904.

The clock was sold at auction in 1995 to local clock repairman Steven L. Fitzsimmons.

Steve went on to repair the clock and his family donated it back to the Danville Public Library in his memory.

Library board members and staff attended Monday's dedication ceremony. They said the clock is in a safe place on the wall of the second-floor conference and board room in the library, 319 N. Vermilion St.

The plaque with the clock has Steve's picture on it and reads "This clock, a Seth Thomas Office Calendar #13, is being donated to the Danville Public Library, Danville, IL, in October 2023. The same clock was originally donated to the Danville Public Library when the original library building was completed with grants by Andrew Carnegie in 1904. In 1995, the Office Calendar #13 needed repair and was sold at auction. Steven L. Fitzsimmons, local clock repairman, purchased the clock and refurbished it to its original condition. Mr. Fitzsimmons continued to repair antique clocks until 2022. The Seth Thomas Calendar #13 is being donated to the Danville Public Library in memory of Steven L. Fitzsimmons, a lifelong Danville resident and antique clock repairman."

The clock has a perpetual calendar on the bottom with the date.

"It's a very nicely designed clock," Chris said. "This has some really delicate carvings."

Beverly said Steve took a lot of pride in fixing antique clocks.

Jennifer Hess said they are "thrilled" to have the clock back in the library from the original Carnegie Library.

Chris said they appreciate the opportunity to have the clock displayed in the library.

"I think Steve would be very happy to have it displayed here," she added.

She said it took a while for him to repair the clock. It had several things that needed work.

He would have to look for parts for the clock he repaired, and sometimes he had to machine them himself.

"He probably worked on it a year or two before he was able to hang it back up and run it," Chris said.

Library board members said it's a beautiful piece.