The Ellen E. Ward Clock Tower is the symbol of Roslyn. You couldn’t imagine the village without it.
Over the decades, the board of trustees has worked diligently to keep the Clock Tower in top shape. They even added a time capsule to the structure.
Recently, more upgrades were made. The BOT has ensured that the Tower performs its most practical duty: Keeping the right time.
The village hired Essence of Time of Lockport to restore and repair the Tower with new electric movements and
auto-controller. Installation, village officials said, included a state-of-the-art electric controller which will self-correct the time in case of power failure and seasonal time change.
The Clock Tower is about more than time. It pays homage to Ellen E. Ward, a Roslyn patriot who over the years performed many acts of public service. These include dedicating a window in Trinity Church in memory of her husband, and donating, in 1885, the Roslyn Watering Trough which is located on the triangle at the intersection of Old Northern Boulevard and Bryant Avenue. Her children donated a litany desk and Brass Eagle Lectern to Trinity Church in their mother’s memory.
The Ellen E. Ward Clock Tower was commissioned by her children and dedicated to her memory in 1895. According to the Roslyn Landmark Society, “Ellen Eliza Cairnes Ward was born in 1826 and grew up in Roslyn Harbor at “Clifton” now known as “Willowmere”. She married Midshipman Robert Stuart, USN in 1848. The couple had three children and resided in Roslyn harbor at “Locust Knoll” now known as “Mayknoll” Lt. Stuart resigned his commission in 1857 and died in 1863. Three years later, Ellen married Elijah Ward who had been Judge Advocate General of New York State. He died in 1882.”
The construction of the Clock Tower took only 10 months, beginning in March 1895 and ending in December of that year.
The Tower underwent extensive restoration in 1995 and again in 1999. In 1995, Morris Welte, stepfather of then-trustee and future mayor, Janet Galante, did major work to get the clocks working. A descendant of the Ward family, Marshall Ward volunteered interior carpentry restoration in 1995. Above the entrance door is the memorial which reads:
“In Loving Memory of Ellen E. Ward A.D. 1895: To Whom Roslyn and Its People Were Dear She Fell Asleep January 18, 1893.”
In other village news, Mayor John Durkin has announced that “after what seemed like forever,” the village will have brick crosswalks on Old Northern Boulevard.
“They [the sidewalks] not only enhance the landscape but provide an additional layer of pedestrian safety,” Durkin said. “I do apologize for the inconvenience the work caused. Traffic control during the project was not always as good as it could have been. But we are past that now, and our downtown with its new benches and crosswalks is greatly improved.”
The mayor also kept village residents posted on the village’s legal dealings with local fire departments over an annual contract payment, one that allows for the fire companies to provide fire protection and EMS services for the Roslyn community.
At issue are the allocated fees that flow from the village to the fire companies.
Earlier, Durkin said that significant increases in the fire service bill are because Nassau County changed its assessment formula. From 2017 to 2023, the village’s fire services bill increased by 48.2 percent.
Durkin added that the village did not shirk its responsibilities, paying, in both 2022 and 2023, the amount due to the companies. Durkin also noted that the Executive Board of the fire companies has filed a lawsuit against the village.
The fire companies maintained that the village has not paid their full portion of the allocated bills for 2022 nor have the fire companies received a completed 2023 contract.
The fire companies added that such actions have caused severe distress to their ability to operate.
“They [the fire companies] have stated their case and we have stated ours,” Durkin said. “When we came to an impasse early on in the discussion, I suggested a mediator to help resolve the issues, but the fire department adamantly refused and chose to initiate a lawsuit instead. After over a year of refusing this idea, they have finally agreed to sitting down with a mediator in an effort to resolve the dispute. They have not abandoned the lawsuit, but I am hopeful that after our meeting we will be able to come to a satisfactory solution.”
As noted in a recent issue of The Roslyn News, the impasse is over the allocated fees that flow from the village to the fire companies.
Mayor Durkin said that significant increases in the fire service bill are because Nassau County changed its assessment formula. From 2017 to 2023, the village’s fire services bill increased by 48.2 percent.
Finally, the mayor addressed the tragic deaths of Drew Hassenbein and Ethan Falkowitz, two 14-year-old Roslyn Middle School students and tennis stars, who died in a July automobile accident in Syosset. Two other teens in the car were also injured in the crash. The victims were on the way home from getting food following a local tennis event.
“We all here wanted to do something for the families of the two young men who were so tragically taken from us,” Durkin said. “At our last BOT meeting we agreed unanimously to place yellow ribbons, fixed with tennis balls, on the downtown light poles. We are hoping that in some small way this keeps their memory alive and we honor these two young athletes.”
The ribbons will be a symbol of support for a community still in mourning.