The future of Gorham’s town clock could be decided this week.

The clock, which could be worth up to $1 million, is being restored in Freeport and will be ready in March or April to be returned to Gorham. The clock, a gift to the town, was removed for repair last fall from the steeple of the First Parish Church where the clock had ticked for 138 years.

Gorham’s town council could decide to install the clock at the town’s new municipal center – the renovated Shaw School. But the church wants the historic clock back.

Opposition believes the clock should be installed on town property because taxpayer money is being used to restore the clock. Last year, the town council authorized spending up to $75,000 to repair the clock, which had stopped.

Public comment will be heard at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6, in the municipal center, 75 South St. before council action.

Citing historic significance of the clock’s location at the church, the First Parish hopes to retain the clock. “We would like to see the clock returned to the church,” said Mark Faunce, moderator of the church’s executive board.

But Matt Robinson, a former town councilor, has raised the issue of separation of church and state and he fears returning the clock to the church would set a precedent. “I’m in favor of it going into the municipal center,” Robinson said.

The clock was a gift from Toppan Robie, a leading Gorham citizen, in 1868. The clock was manufactured in Boston by the Howard Clock Company. Robie paid $500 for the clock that Rick Balzer, the expert repairing the clock, said is now priceless.

Faunce said Robie had previously given the church a Paul Revere bell, which was tolled by the clock. “To separate the clock from the bell would be to fracture history,” Faunce said.

The clock decision is expected to draw a large gathering at the town council meeting. The church is circulating a petition in a drive to retain the clock.


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