July 13, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story is about the man who took care of the Opera House clock.
We have shared stories about Walter Starcke on past broadcasts. According to a newspaper account in July of 1927, Walter Starcke was the official custodian of the Junction City town clock, located in the Opera House Tower. He had held the position for 44 years – ever since Junction City had a town clock. This first clock was installed in the tower of the city hall and Opera House building in 1883. But the clock tower fell during construction and had to be rebuilt. The clock was not installed again until about three years later. Mr. Starcke, then a youngster was employed by his uncle, Andrew Vogler, who had a jewelry store on East 7th Street. Young Walter was given the job of winding, regulating, oiling and taking regular care of the clock. He did this until it was destroyed when the building was burned in 1898. When the Opera House was rebuilt, another clock, a Seth Thomas was installed. Mr. Starcke estimated that he averaged 150 trips a year into the clock tower for the purpose of winding the clock and doing maintenance on it. For many years Walter Starcke received only $15 a year for acting as guardian of the clock. But in 1927 his wage was raised to …..$52.00 a year.
Many of you have visited the Starcke House on the corner of Fifth and Adams, which is an historic site owned by the Historical Society. Free tours are available upon request. Just contact one of the staff members on your next visit to the Museum at the corner of Sixth and Adams or call for an appointment at 238-1666.