Category Archives: Aiden

Romantic Weekend Getaway and the Bily Clocks Museum

36 years ago December 30 (1984) MFH asked me to marry him.  Well actually the conversation went something like, I guess we should get married. I agreed, Yup!  I mean time was short because we were in the middle of watching a rerun of Maverick on a B&W television and the commercial break was almost over.  The commercial ended and 5 months later in May of 1985, we were married.  Who says romance is dead?

On the spur of the moment, MFH (My Favorite Husband) and I decided to take a little romantic weekend getaway.  #1 Son has been here for a visit and he agreed to watch Chester and Castro so we were free to skip town and do a little trip we’ve been wanting to take.  We packed and turned the car north towards Decorah, Iowa.

Bear in mind this was New Year’s weekend so we didn’t know if anything would be open but we figured it’d be fun to go find out!

We stayed at the Hotel Winnishiek in downtown Decorah.  It’s an old hotel but very pretty.  We were a little unhappy in not getting the room we reserved and we were far from pleased with the hotel breakfast but we were comfortable and we’re really not all that fussy.

On our drive north, one of the places we were wanting to visit was the Bily Clocks Museum.  This museum in in a very tiny town called Spillville, Iowa and it wasn’t too far from our destination of Decorah.  I mean it was a 5 minute drive out of our way tops!

I love old clocks so I was intrigued from the beginning when I learned of this place.  Don’t know why but old clocks and antique radios….I really enjoy them!

We drove to the museum on New Year Day expecting them to be closed and they were.  I was hoping they’d have a pamphlet or something outside so I could find out their hours of operation or something?  They didn’t have anything out but MFH grabbed a pic of me out in front.

The building itself is pretty awesome so I mentioned I’d like to go back on our way home and grab a few more pics.  I wanted to see the entire building and I especially wanted a closer pic of the plaque to my left!  So, a little about this museum:

Back in 1913, the Bily brothers took up clock making as a hobby for during the winter months. They were farmers and carpenters but there really wasn’t a whole lot to do during the winter in northern Iowa back in the early 1900’s.  Creating clocks seemed like the perfect hobby! Over the  next 30 years, the brothers made over 20 clocks.  They made smaller clocks and some pretty big clocks.  The largest one is almost 10 foot tall!  That’s one big clock!

Word spread of their hobby and some people would come to see their creations.  They never sold a single clock, not even when Henry Ford offered to buy one of their clocks for a million dollars in 1928.  In the mid 1940’s they gave their collection to the town of Spillville but made the town promise that they would never move/sell any of their clocks.  That is how the clocks ended up at this building.

Now, before this building became the clock museum, we’re going to backtrack to the summer of 1893.

Back in 1893 Antonín Dvořák and his family moved into this house for the summer.

Antonín Dvořák was a famous Czech composer and the town of Spillville had a strong Czech speaking population. He hired a secretary named Josef Jan Kovařík.  Josef had just completed violin studies at the Prague Conservatory and was returning home to the United States.  It was logical to relocate to Spillville where Josef’s father was a schoolmaster.

They moved in the now Bily Clocks Museum building and Dvořák settled down to work.  During the summer of 1893, he composed the String Quartet in F (The “American”) and the String Quintet in E Flat Major.  He was a busy guy that summer!  He moved his family back to New York that fall.

Dvořák is probably best known for the New World Symphony.

It was pretty amazing being at the building where this great composer lived…a serious pinch me, I’m dreaming thing!

We had a wonderful weekend and even managed to grab a nice 10k, too!

Happy running, everyone!

#IRun4Aiden