Nestled in the rolling hills of Central Massachusetts, Willard House is one of Grafton's oldest buildings, constructed the early 1700's in what was then known as the Indian settlement of Hassanamisco. Four of Joseph's grandsons - Benjamin, Simon, Ephraim and Aaron Willard - would become America's preeminent 19th century clockmakers, making their first clocks in 1766 in their small Grafton workshop. In 1802, Simon Willard obtained a patent for his Improved Timepiece, or "banjo" clock. Today the banjo is considered to be one of the most significant styles of early 19th century American timepieces.
Founded by Dr. Roger and Imogene Robinson in 1969, and opened to the public in 1971, the museum features world's largest collection of Willard clocks. The collection is displayed in period room settings in the 1718 Joseph Willard homestead, the 1766 Benjamin Willard Clock Manufactory and three modern galleries, and also includes: more than 90 Willard clocks; Willard family portraits and furnishings; Colonial, Federal and Empire period furniture; antique Oriental rugs; 19th century women's costumes; 18th century American and English pewter; Victorian dolls and doll furniture; military and hunting weapons; Nipmuc Indian artifacts; and original documents signed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
The Willard House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dr. Roger and Imogene Robinson
Dr. Roger and Imogene Robinson founded the Willard House & Clock Museum in 1971, after purchasing the property in 1968. The couple spent over 40 years of their lives dedicated to the preservation of this historic home and to telling the important story of the Willard family clock makers. Simply put, without Roger and "Jean", the Willard home would not be here today.
Dr. Robinson began collecting Willard clocks in 1955, with a brass-dial Simon Willard eight-day clock. His clocks formed the basis for the museum's collection, now known as the Roger Robinson Clock Collection. Imogene's vision for the museum was shown through the lovingly curated displays of period furniture, needlework, and Willard family treasures.
Dr. Robinson died on November 11, 2010 at the age of 101, predeceased by Imogene, who passed away on February 15, 2004 at the age of 102.