Town clock to be restored along with church steeple

Spire removal set for evening of June 1 in Camden
By Susan Mustapich | May 19, 2017
Photo by: Susan Mustapich Restoration of the town clock will be paid for with funds raised for the rehabilitation of the Chestnut Street Baptist Church steeple and spire.

CAMDEN — The Chestnut Street Baptist Church in Camden will pay for substantial repairs to the town clock, as part of the major restoration of the church steeple and spire.

At the May 16 Select Board meeting, Taylor Martens, a deacon who oversees church facilities, said the steeple restoration project will include removal and restoration of steel and brass components of the town clock, which show rust and oxidation due to water damage from leakage within the structure. The project also includes installation of a protective covering over the clock movement, pendulum, weight tracks and pulleys.

The announcement was good news to selectmen, who had seen a description of the clock repair costing $48,000 in their information packet for the meeting.

The current town clock dates to 1910, and was made and presented to the town by the E. Howard Clock Company. The owner, Edward Howard, was a summer resident of Camden. Balzer Family Clock Works of Freeport, completely restored the clock in 1995.

The clock repair involves an intricate process of disconnecting and removing the mechanisms, dials and components, removing paint and rust, applying new coatings, cleaning the special double frosted glass sections and numerous components, reassembling, and installing a protective covering over the clock movement, pendulum, weight tracks and pulleys.

Prior to the announcement about the clock repairs, Martens, and church member Jeff Foltz, requested a temporary street closing of Chestnut Street on Thursday, June 1, from 5 to 9 p.m. when a 200-foot crane will remove the 44-foot spire from atop the steeple. Foltz has overseen the effort to raise $538,000 for the steeple restoration. Camden voters approved $75,000 for the project at the 2016 town meeting.

The crane will arrive at 7 a.m. and park in front of the church. At 5 p.m. it will be rigged, which takes about an hour, Martens said, and "the pick" will occur around 6 p.m.

Board members unanimously approved the temporary street closure after learning that Police Chief Randy Gagne had reviewed the proposal, and recommended that the work be done in the evening. Gagne attended a pre-construction meeting April 27, along with Fire Chief Chris Farley, Public Works Director Rick Seibel, Ben Keeley of Keeley Crane Service and Martens.

Foltz said this will be the fourth time the spire has been removed in the history of the church. The new spire will be built to last 100 years, according to Foltz. Martens expects the spire to be replaced mid-to-late August.

To date, just under $40,000 of the $538,000 cost of the restoration remains to be raised. In 2015, inspections of the steeple and spire revealed structural deterioration. Since then, four two-story high structural beams have been replaced at a cost of $85,000.

The restoration includes gutting and replacing of supports and boards within the upper portion of the steeple, and exterior repairs and painting to withstand exposure to coastal weather conditions. Scaffolding which will envelop the steeple as the project gets under way will cost $120,000.

The spire will be rebuilt by Lyman-Morse using a composite material, manufactured to duplicate the exterior detail, texture and color, and protect the steeple from water infiltration.

Courier Publications reporter Susan Mustapich can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at smustapich@villagesoup.com.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | May 19, 2017 11:53

Wonderful for the town and the tourists. Keep Camden "small town" image. The clock and steeple fulfill that. Kudos to those who contributed to this worthy project.



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