Antique & modern clock repair, 30 yrs experience, grandfather clock house calls
June’s other Hot Spot can be found just a stone’s throw from Main Street. Full Moon Clockworks (301 Railroad Ave) is home to the only old-school clockmaker in the area.
Stepping through the door of the shop will make a visitor feel as if they have literally stepped back through time. The front room of the historic cottage is absolutely filled with clocks of all ages, shapes and sizes. They hang from the walls, line the shelves and utterly surround the workbench of master clockmaker Terry Downs.
Downs is a horologist – someone trained to work with timekeeping devices. As a master clockmaker, she repairs and restores all sorts of antique and vintage clocks, a skill that is becoming increasingly rare.
Downs says that her profession is literally dying out, since the older clockmakers are either passing away or retiring and few younger people have an interest in mechanical things like “old-fashioned” clocks. And it’s a challenging profession, one that takes years to learn the required skills.
In the beginning of her own career, Downs apprenticed with a master clockmaker for two years and worked for him an additional twelve. She’s been working with clocks for over thirty years now, and is active in the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. She also serves as vice-president for the local chapter.
“Clock repairing is my passion,” she says. “I learned to fix clocks the old way. It’s not just a matter of mechanics. Restoring a clock back to the way it was meant to look and work is really an art-form.”
When Downs was looking for a location to open her own store in 2010, Bay St. Louis lured her away from New Orleans. She liked the historic charm of Old Town, as well as the sense of community. She and her husband purchased a historic cottage near the Depot in 2010 and began the extensive restoration process.
The cottage is featured on the Bay St. Louis Historic Walking Tour since it’s one of the rare Biloxi cottages on the west side of the Mississippi coast. A hallmark of the Biloxi style is a central chimney that serves corner fireplaces in four different rooms.
In addition to restoring clocks to a healthy working condition in her cottage workshop, like an old-fashioned doctor, Downs also makes house-calls when necessary – mostly for grandfather clocks.
Since she’s sometimes out “on-call,” customers are encouraged to make appointments for a clock consultation.
When asked about the allure of her unusual profession, Downs quotes M.F. Tennant, author of “The Art of the Painted Dial.”
“I love clockwork because it is complex and yet simple, beautiful, and elegant… Everything about the order of the turning wheels that is applied over and over to create an item that keeps time regularly and that predicts sunrise and sunset is marvelous.”