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ECC Foundation Board Member Donates Historic Clock to ECC

Tarboro resident Ronnie Ellis has donated a historic grandfather clock to Edgecombe Community College. Shown with the clock in its new home in the Norfleet House are (from left) Dr. Greg McLeod, ECC president; Ronnie Ellis; Monika Fleming, program coordinator of Historic Preservation; and Lynwood Roberson, executive director of the ECC Foundation.

Ronnie Ellis, a longtime friend of Edgecombe Community College and the ECC Foundation, has donated an antique grandfather clock to the College for permanent display in the historic Norfleet House on the Tarboro campus.

Monika Fleming, program coordinator of the Historic Preservation program, estimates that the clock was built in the 1820s. The clockmaker was Seth Thomas, who began making clocks in New England in 1813.

According to Ellis, the clock was in the Wilkinson-Dozier House when Ellis’s partner, the late Earl Roberson, bought the house in the 1970s. The Wilkinson-Dozier House is located near Conetoe and was built in 1816.

“The clock was the only piece of furniture in the house when Earl bought it,” Ellis says. “We never knew when or how it came to be in Edgecombe County.”

The clock face still bears trace amounts of gold leaf, and though it has not worked in years, its wooden parts were found in a box inside the base of the clock. The face also contains traces of the clockmaker inscription, “S. Thomas of Plymouth.”

Ellis, who serves on the ECC Foundation Board of Directors, says that donating the grandfather clock to the Norfleet House was a natural fit. “I’m donating it in memory of Earl, but also because it just seems to fit the house,” he explains. Earl Roberson worked at ECC for 19 years.

The Norfleet House is the cornerstone of ECC’s Historic Preservation program. The 200-year-old home has been a working classroom since it was moved to the Tarboro campus in 2009. Craftsmen and Historic Preservation students restored the house.

Ellis has donated other items to the Norfleet House, including a table and chair and a blanket chest.