Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

San Diego  

Sundial 213
State/Province:  California Country:  USA
Dial Type:  Horizontal Condition:  Replica
Latitude:   32° 46.617' N Longitude:   117° 04.281' W
Location:
  • San Diego State University campus on Montezuma Mesa, 5500 Campanile Drive in San Diego, CA. Sundial is in the Mediterranean Garden just east of the Old Quad near the Life Science Building
 
Description:
  • This is not the Koester dial at SDSU, but a far more interesting horizontal dial originally dedicated to the San Diego Normal School for elementary teaching by the class of June, 1911. The 18-inch octagonal bronze dial was originally designed by San Diego Clock maker Joseph Jessop and mounted on a miniature Doric column. The dial was placed within the circular lawn directly in front of the school's main entrance at the intersection of Park and El Cajon Boulevards.

    In 1931 the sundial was lost when the San Diego Normal School moved to its current location on Montezuma Mesa. Over the years the school's name changed until becoming San Diego State University. Howard Welty, a retired Oakland high school principal and member of the class of 1911 visited the new campus and noted that the sundial had disappeared. Familiar with the old Normal School building from his work as a student janitor, Welty found the sundial and its broken stylus in a basement. No one knew how it had been damaged. Welty took the pieces home and some years later had the sundial repaired at an Oakland foundry.

    In a letter by Howard Welty, Jr., his aging father passed the timepiece to him, so he mounted it on a stump in the yard of his La Mesa home for several years. In 1990, Howard O. Welty, Jr. offered the sundial to the Special Collections Department of San Diego State's Love Library. On January 28, 1998, the sundial once again found itself on display as part of San Diego State’s Mediterranean Garden located just east of the Old Quad.

    On February 10, 1998, less than 2 weeks from the sundial's dedication the Aztec school newspaper reported that the bronze sundial had been stolen and its pedestal left “chipped and barren - the handiwork of a power drill-bearing thief in the night.” Mark Hatay, who has worked on campus for more than three decades was incensed by the theft. Hatay began studying the sundial with the intent of restoring it to the garden. He met with James Jessop to examine family photos of Joseph Jessop’s original works and techniques. “I kind of looked at it and said, 'You know what? I could make this. I could reproduce this for them,'” Hatay recalls. “And so it kind of went from there.” Hatay's reproduction was restored to the Garden in 1999. The sundial is located in a quiet spot next to the Life Science building on a plinth donated by Dr. James E and Mary P. Crouch.


 
General Information:Inscription:
  • Owner: San Diego State University
  • "Made by the senior class of 1911" and "J. Jessop and Sons Jewelers” are inscribed on top of the dial.

    At the bottom of the dial: "Presented by the June Class MCMXI"

    In the center of the replica: "Original by Joseph Jessop 1911 - Reproduction by Mark Hatay 1999"
  • Designer: Joseph Jessop Clockmaker, Replica: Mark Hatay
  • Builder: Joseph Jessop Clockmaker, Replica: Mark Hatay
  • Construction Date: Original 1911; Replica 1999
 
References: Web Links:
  • Thanks to the San Diego State University Alumni Organization and their fine recap of the history of this most interesting sundial.

Last Revised: 2016-01-20-17:01