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11 Willard Street
North Grafton MA 01536


The Willard House & Clock Museum is a historic place with festive roots, right in the heart of Massachusetts. Come visit us for a guided tour of our museum.

Programs & Events

Filtering by: Lecture Series 2019
 “The British are Coming! Simon Willard Meets Paul Revere”
2:00 PM14:00

“The British are Coming! Simon Willard Meets Paul Revere”

Presented by Robert C. Cheney

When Simon Willard moved to Roxbury about 1780, he developed business relationships with numerous craftsmen and merchants who were important to the production and sale of clocks for eager buyers in the emerging American market. Cabinetmakers, brass founders, dial and glass painters, carvers, gilders, journeymen, and merchants all joined forces to produce and market the most complicated accessory found in the 18th century home. Paul Revere was one of the leading group of craftsmen and merchants offering services and English goods to Simon Willard as early as 1780 as documented by Revere’s day book held at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

 In this lecture, Revere will be discussed for his role in securing Birmingham dials, brass hardware, and most importantly, engraving and printing services for Simon Willard’s new design. A shelf clock which also served as a manual almanac was unheard of in America and production was entirely experimental.  The Willard House and Clock Museum is fortunate to have one of only two of these important and rare timekeepers on loan from the Dedham Historical Society and Museum. This clock, which features Revere’s engraved and printed data will be examined and discussed during this talk.  

The English connection to American clock making will also be discussed with a Simon Willard Jr. astronomical regulator recently donated to the museum by Trustee David G. Newsom. This clock was used in Willard’s shop on 9 Congress Street, Boston and descended in his family until acquired by Mr. Newsom twenty years ago. It utilizes a state-of-the-art eight-day precision brass weight powered movement probably acquired by Willard from the Frodsham clockmaking firm in London about 1840.


 Robert C. Cheney of Brimfield, Massachusetts is a third-generation clockmaker and a nationally recognized authority on early American clocks. During his 35-year career of self-employment, he has served as a conservator and consultant for nearly fifty museums including Old Sturbridge Village, Worcester Art Museum, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He was named ‘Scholar in Residence‘ at the Concord Museum where he wrote a controversial thesis on the Willard clockmaker’s shop methodology.  Now, twenty years later, it is cited in horological scholarship throughout the world.

Cheney has served on the boards of the major horological museums: The National Clock and Watch Museum, Columbia, PA, The American Clock and Watch Museum, Bristol, CT and the Willard House and Clock Museum, N. Grafton, MA. He founded, chaired and spent a decade at the “Clocks, Watches and Scientific Instruments” department at Skinner Inc., Boston holding two international sales each year. He is co-author of “ Clock Making in New England, 1725-1825”, has lectured extensively on antique clocks in the United States, Canada and the U.K. and has appeared regularly on PBS Antiques Roadshow. Today he is the Executive Director and Curator of the Willard House and Clock Museum, in North Grafton, Massachusetts.

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2019 Robinson Lecture: Your Heart in my Hands
6:00 PM18:00

2019 Robinson Lecture: Your Heart in my Hands

Our speaker will be Dr. Arun Singh, a nationally recognized heart surgeon who has performed over 20,000 open heart surgeries over his 40-year career. His lecture titled “Your Heart in My Hands” documents his professional career from his life of poverty in India to showing up at Worcester airport with five dollars to his name to pursue a career in heart surgery! His recently published, best-selling book by the same title has exceeded all expectations and sent the author to over 70 interviews on national radio and television.

  To make Arun Singh’s story even more interesting, his life-long collection of masterpiece American decorative arts including furniture, folk art, brass, silver, ceramics and clocks, will be sold by Sotheby’s in New York during January Antiques week 2020. The entire proceeds from this collection will be donated to a small private school in his hometown in India that recognized Arun’s academic potential despite dyslexia, and other disabilities. Arun and his wife Barbara, have endowed the school since his rise to success over 40 years ago.

 Special thanks to David Gow for his brilliant suggestion that the Robinson lecture (named to honor Dr Roger Robinson, a noted heart surgeon in Worcester) need not necessarily have to be horology, it could in fact be cardiology!

Members - Free
Non-members - $10



One of the most prolific Heart surgeons in American history, Arun K. Singh, M.D. was born in India in 1944.

Educated in India and trained at Columbia University, NYC, Brown University Medical School and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London and, he has practiced since 1975 at Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, now retired 2016.

There, Dr. Singh helped build a nationally-recognized cardiac surgery program at RI. He has
personally performed more than 15,000 documented heart surgeries another 5,000 related procedures—a number virtually unsurpassed in the profession.

A professor of surgery at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, now Emeritus since 2016, he has published more than 150 scientific papers, authored many chapters in medical texts, and given lectures on heart disease and cardiac surgery to professional and lay audiences, both regionally and nationally. He is also an adjunct professor at Bryant University’s Physician Assistant Program.

As a physician, Dr. Singh has earned numerous national & international awards, including the American Heart Association “Hero at Heart”; the Dr. Charles L. Hill Award from the Rhode Island Medical Society; the first recipient of Milton Hamolsky Outstanding Physician Award, Life time achievement award by the Rhode Island Hospital and was inducted in Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame

Dr. Singh was voted the state’s “Top Doc” in heart surgery for 20 years running, to name a few. Local politicians, congressional representatives and U S senators have honored him with numerous citations.

He and his wife Barbara, a native New Yorker, have been married 49 years. They have two sons, Ari and Michael, two grandsons and a granddaughter.

The Singh’s, lives in Providence, support a number of charities, including his favorites the Food bank & Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, which develops schools in rural India for underprivileged children.

He was inducted into RI Heritage Hall of Fame in 2017, his memoirs “Your Heart: My Hand” is published by the Hachette Book Group in 2019.

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Lighting Your Collection
2:00 PM14:00

Lighting Your Collection

American designer Sandra Liotus and British engineer Sir David Crampton-Barden are the creative team behind the Newport, R.I.-based custom lighting design firm Sandra Liotus Lighting Design, LLC (SLLD). Blending their expertise to create innovative lighting solutions, this pioneering duo has developed the art world’s most sophisticated eco-friendly custom lighting system.

Lighting is key to every environment and is just as important to an interior as the fine finishes and decoration that has been carefully curated. If the space is not lit properly without a balance and sensitivity in design, the expensive, carefully planned interiors will look common place.

Sharing a profound attention to detail, while combining their expert knowledge of engineering and design, this talented duo forges bespoke lighting systems as unique as the fine artwork itself.

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Collecting Antiques Long Before it Was Cool
2:00 PM14:00

Collecting Antiques Long Before it Was Cool

An illustrated lecture by Robert C. Cheney, Executive Director and Curator, Willard House and Clock Museum.

This lecture was presented at the Henry Ford Museum as the James Arthur keynote address for the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors.  

The program takes an objective look at collecting decorative arts from the pre-Civil War era through the struggling antiques market in the early 21st century. We meet three important, yet little–known Massachusetts antiquarians who played a vital role in establishing the foundation collections at The Concord Museum, The Essex Institute (now the Peabody-Essex Museum), and the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association. This unusual passion for collecting paved the way for later outdoor history museums such as the Greenfield Village in Dearborn Michigan, Old Sturbridge Village and Historic Deerfield. 

Sprinkled in between, we will take a look in awe at some of the record prices achieved during the booming 80’s and 90’s; a time when it was really “cool” to collect American antiques!

Free with museum admission.

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