Time barely passes at 'clock house'

While a working timepiece is an unusual addition to a front yard, the inside of the home is a true throwback to another era.

January 03, 2014|By Bradley Zint
  • Marianne and David Wegener's vintage clock sits atop a 12-foot iron pole at East 19th Street and Westminster Avenue in Costa Mesa. It has garnered its share of attention for nearly 35 years.
Marianne and David Wegener's vintage clock sits… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

A landmark home in Eastside Costa Mesa has for nearly 35 years been informally and affectionately known as the "clock house."

And for good reason: In front of its Americana white picket fence and manicured lawn is a vintage clock atop a 12-foot-high pole.

The two-story, wooden clapboard house at East 19th Street and Westminster Avenue is technically at 251 E. 19th St., but the conspicuous clock is associated with the latter thoroughfare.

Above the dials, the gently curved white text reads, "Westminster." That word just has a better, more prestigious-sounding ring to it, said homeowner Marianne Wegener, 66.

"I didn't think that 251 E. 19th did it any justice," she said, recalling when her husband, David, 69, made the old-school timepiece decades ago. He got the idea from seeing town square clocks in Newport Beach, Orange and Brea and thought it would be a unique touch for his home too.


Most of the base, which contains lions and rams painted white, is concrete. The pole and clock are iron. The whole thing is electric-powered and, David said, a pretty accurate teller of time. If it's not, folks will tell him so. They rely on it, he said.

A pair of small lights illuminate both sides of the clock face at night. He got the lighting design idea from a Kansas City rail yard. For a time, David said, the clock contained neon lighting, but it was too much.

"It lit the whole corner up," he said.

David said his clock has gotten some attention through the years. A promotional magazine for Costa Mesa's 60th anniversary mentioned it. Another time, a radio show held a contest asking for the location of "that clock house in Costa Mesa," he said.

The winner? Their neighbor. The prize? A trip to Catalina.

Marianne bought the house in 1976 for $54,000. When she married David a few years later, he moved in.

The Wegeners aren't sure whether the home was built in 1917 or 1926, though county records say it's the latter. It was originally some 850 square feet with two bedrooms and one bathroom. The Wegeners expanded it in the 1980s to about 1,800 square feet, with four bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Marianne said the place felt like a church or a palace when, as a single woman, she first moved in. She says she arrived with only a can of olives and soon furnished the place with her grandma's stuff, much of which is still in the home, where the pair raised their four children.

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