elcome to the Historical Society of Bay County (HSBC) website. Organized in 1936 to preserve the rich heritage of the area, the society sponsors a monthly meeting and lecture series featuring talks on topics of historical significance to the area. In 2014, the society opened the Bay County History Museum in order to share collected artifacts, photographs and documents with the community. Exhibits related to Bay County’s past are presented throughout the year.
The public is invited, regardless of membership and at no cost to enjoy both the lecture series and the Museum.
It's About Time! HSBC assists Town Clock's preservation
Photo courtesy of the Historical Society of Bay County.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in 2018, the Old Bank Clock that once hung at the corner of Harrison Avenue and Beach Drive, and later at Harrison and 7th, was badly damaged. Unfortunately, the cap or roof was missing. It had been the icon of the Downtown since 1926, when it was installed on the First National Bank building at Beach Drive and Harrison Avenue. This bracket clock was manufactured by O. B. McClintock Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota. If intact, it would measure 10 feet in height and 3.5 feet in width. When the bank moved to a new building at the corner of 7th Street and Harrison Avenue in 1957, the clock was mounted on a pedestal in front of the building.
In 2019, the old clock was about to be demolished in the renovations at the bank building. That is when local realtor Kevin Wattenbarger saw what was about to happen. He contacted the Historical Society of Bay County member, Bob Hurst and clock owners, Sun Trust Bank who assured Wattenbarger and the Historical Society that they could have it.
The dilemma was how to remove an 800-pound clock from a 15-foot-high post and transport it 6 blocks to the museum. Bill Register and his company, Register’s Enterprises of Bay County, came to the aid of the group. He organized the proper crews and on
October 11, 2019, the clock was removed from its pedestal and brought to the museum. It was raised upright and exhibited bythe engineering skills of Robert Saunders, and the display skills of Rebecca Saunders and Anita Thomas. The museum is not the best place for this colossal custodian of time. It is a fixture meant to be viewed and its chimes heard throughout downtown. The clock’s iconic image has been engrained in the memories of longtime citizens of Panama City.
On September 13, 2021, the clock’s ownership was signed over to the city of Panama City through the efforts of Society President Tem Fontaine, Past President Dr. Glenda Walters, City Manager Mark McQueen, and Quality of Life Director Sean DePalma.
By transferring ownership to the city of Panama City, it is the hope of the Historical Society that this monument to time will find a home on the outside so that its time and melodious chimes can once again be seen and heard by all who visit historic Downtown Panama City. The projected location is on a pedestal in the center of the proposed Four Points Plaza at Fourth Street and Harrison Avenue. Destined to become the center of the Downtown. The HSBC envisions that the old clock will once again become the icon of the Downtown.
Robert Hurst, author of The Spanish Road, Travels along Florida’s Royal Road, El Camino Real. www.floridasspanishtrail.com
Artist's conception of Four Points Plaza at Harrison Avenue and Fourth Street destined to become the centerpiece of Downtown Panama City. Courtesy of Dover, Kohl and Partners.