September 14, 2013

Portland's clock tower reinstalled

The Rotary Club of Portland led the drive to refurbish the clock with the help of the local business community.

By Bob Keyes
Staff Writer

An official ceremony to mark the restoration of the Monument Square clock tower in Portland is still a few weeks away, but the clock is up and running and telling the correct time.

click image to enlarge

Laura Marston of Portland walks past the refurbished clock in City Center Plaza with her two children, Jack, 4, and Qunn, 2, after it was reinstalled Friday, Sept. 13, 2013.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

Right down to the nanosecond.

It's connected to a GPS system, so it corrects itself to stay current, and will adjust automatically to daylight-saving and standard time.

The clock was reinstalled the first week of September on a new pedestal after being disassembled last spring and repaired off-site. Once reinstalled, the clock face had been covered in a tightly wrapped blue tarp before being unveiled earlier this week.

"I told them to take the tarp off once they got it all hooked up," said Cyrus Hagge, the Portland businessman who led the effort to raise the money to fix the clock. "I didn't want them to have the wrong time on it. But it's back."

The clock tower was originally installed in 1975. In its previous life, it was painted black. It is now green.

Corroded and rusty, the clock was restored by the same company that originally built and installed it in 1975: Electric Time Co., Inc. of Medfield, Mass.

The city will hold an official ceremony the first week of October.

The Rotary Club of Portland, of which Hagge is past president, took on the clock tower as a civic project. It reflected badly on the city that the clock didn't function, he said.

"We all pay a lot of property taxes, but some things need to get fixed," he said. "When we were looking at a project we could do for the city, the clock seemed like a fun one."

The Rotary raised $18,375 to refurbish the clock. The city contributed $5,000 for the pedestal, and Portland's Downtown District contributed $2,500. The total cost: $25,875.

This past spring, Hagge and students at the Maine College of Art, under the direction of illustration department chairman Scott Nash, designed interchangeable clock faces that were swapped out on a monthly basis. The artful facades called attention to the clock tower, and later were auctioned to help raise money for the restoration project.

"It's a great example of artists at work, where we have a faculty member and students involved with a great organization collaborating on public art," said MECA president Don Tuski, a Rotarian. "It's a great example of collaboration, where the community becomes the studio."

Hagge said the business community rallied, with donations from many surrounding businesses.

"It was a fun project for everybody involved," he said. "It was five hundred dollars here, a thousand there. Everybody just stepped up, with no questions asked. I just think there is nothing wrong with local business people digging in to help the neighborhood."


Bob Keyes can be reached at 791-6457 or:

Twitter: pphbkeyes


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