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Calendar >  New Museum in Vista

New Museum in Vista

By   /  May 31, 2016  /  1 Comment



Pat Murphy

Rod is very happy, No, I take it back, I should have said, Rod is ecstatic beyond happy. He is jumping for joy. I wanted to be the one to break the news to you but Rod is so happy that he has been posting about it on Facebook. For those readers that aren’t aware, Rod Groenewold is the Director of the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum (AGSEM). The museum is one of Vista’s best treasures. Hidden off N. Santa Fe behind the Guajome Park Academy, this sprawling 55 acre museum has more features than most amusement parks offer and now the AGSEM has something else to brag about.

The AGSE Museum is home to more than just tractors and engines. During their 40 years here in Vista they have welcomed other organizations such as; the California Blacksmith Association, the Palomar Handweavers Guild, and the Short Track Railroad. On June 18th, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum will be holding a grand opening to welcome their newest addition, the West Coast Clock and Watch Museum (WCCWM).

Photos by Mary Murphy

Since September 2000 the WCCWM has been housed in Bellingham, Washington, at the historic Old Bellingham City Hall. Bellingham is the northernmost city in the contiguous United States. This was never intended to be a permanent location but rather an incubation spot to achieve the goal of a permanent home. WCCWM was unable to expand in Bellingham, or materially increase the exhibits. Lack of exhibit space limited the donation of some sizeable collections of clocks and watches and with the location being so far north it was inaccessible to many people.

The effort to relocate the WCCWM took over 18 months and needed international co-operation to get to fruition. You see, it was two Canadians who drove the truck after 8 volunteers took 3 days to pack it up. The truck full of precious clocks arrived on Friday, May 20 after a 1340 mile drive. I met Jim Marinello, from Langley, British Columbia and John Connolly, from Delta, British Columbia as they helped unload and set up their cargo into a new exhibit space that has been remodeled by Andre Perault from the San Marcos Chapter 136 of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC).

The WCCWM Museum Curator, Ernie Lopez also made the trek to Vista to help unload and set up this new exhibit. We watched as clock pendulums were re-attached and adjustments were made. Only one clock was broken during the transport. That’s a good thing because many of the clocks are one of a kind and they are all clocks made between 1680 and 1910. Ernie was almost as excited as Rod because he looks forward to growing the collection now that there is room to do so. Ernie grew up in Pasadena, was stationed here in Oceanside during his military service, and he likes the area but unfortunately for us, he will continue to live in Bellingham. However, he has a special guest that will be attending the grand opening on the 18th of June. Rear Admiral Anita Lopez (Ernie’s younger sister) with the Marine and Aviation Operations Centers of the National Oceanography and Atmospheric Agency, will be on hand for the ribbon cutting.

Mary and I were treated to a sneak preview of this impressive collection that includes, ceramic clocks, wooden clocks, metal clocks, whimsical clocks, pendulum clocks, clocks from world expositions, “Swingers”, “Groaners” and time recorders. Rod can tell you all about these rare and varied timepieces. I don’t want to spoil it for you by giving too much information and we’re only going to post a few photos of the 280 plus exquisite pieces in this collection. You’ll have to make TIME to see the entire display so come help welcome the WEST COAST CLOCK & WATCH MUSEUM to the AGSEM.

The grand opening of the permanent exhibit will be held during the bi-annual Antique Engine & Tractor Show on Saturday, June 18th, 2016. It will take place inside the Museum’s Assembly Building, building C, at 10:30 am. After viewing this latest addition to Vista’s unique venues you may want to stay for the world famous Tractor Parade.

Donations of clocks, watches or other items can be discussed with either Ron Bechler or Ron Kowalski at the addresses below;

Ron Bechler, Director – 726 Royal Glen Dr. – San Jose, CA 95133 – (408) 926-3212

Ron Kowalski (WCCWM Treasurer)- 1427 East Village Ln., #B – Bellingham, WA 98226
For additional information and or questions please contact:

Ernie Lopez (WCCWM Curator) – PO Box 5992 – Silverdale, WA 98315 – ernest.lopez@wccwm.org

William Lockyer (President NAWCC Chapter 180 ) – 460 Main St. # 109- Placerville, CA 95667
(530) 626-1362

Rod Groenewold AGSEM Director – 2040 N Santa Fe Avenue- Vista, CA 92083- 760-941-1791

Email: rodagsem@gmail.com


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1 Comment

  1. Ellen & Phil says:

    Ernie, we enjoyed the article about the new location of the Mueseum. WE have plans already for a large family reunion on the Oregon Coast in June so not sure how it would work out but, would like to be there to see it all and to meet your sister and help calm your nerves.

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