BIDDEFORD — The historic clock on top of Biddeford City Hall has been partially restored and will be unveiled during a special ceremony Friday morning.

In 2018, Biddeford won a $150,000 historic preservation grant awarded by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation through the “Partner in Preservation: Celebrating Diversity on Main Street” campaign. Biddeford was one of 20 communities across the country chosen to compete for a share of the $1.6 million in grants.

Heart of Biddeford, a nationally designated Main Street program, received the $150,000 grant in October 2018 thanks to community support for the project in a nationwide online voting contest.

The Balzar Family Clock Works Company of Freeport submitted a bid of $86,725 to restore the clock, which stopped working in 2015. Biddeford’s City Council approved the bid and the clock was removed last spring and brought to Freeport for the repairs.

The condition of the clock tower on top of the 124-year-old City Hall building has been a concern of Biddeford city officials for years. City voters rejected referendums to fund restoration work in 2007, 2012 and 2015.

Listed on the National Historic Register, Biddeford City Hall was designed by acclaimed Portland architect John Calvin Stevens. The brick and granite City Hall structure was built in 1894 to replace one originally destroyed by a fire. The clock tower was added in 2014 by Maine Preservation to its annual list of the state’s most endangered properties.

Funding was used to repair the clock itself, although other work remains on the tower. That includes regilding the tower’s copper dome, repairing wood paneling and windows, restoring stained-glass windows, redoing the roof under the bell and replacing decorative railings, which were removed years ago when pieces started falling into the street.

The E. Howard & Co. clock was first installed in the early 1900s as a weight-driven, pendulum-regulated and completely mechanical operating timepiece. Sometime in the 1960s a number of the clock’s mechanical components were removed and replaced with electronic parts.

Balzar has restored the clock back to a weight-driven, pendulum-regulated device, though there will be an automatic winder, eliminating the need to periodically wind the clock manually.

Heart of Biddeford, Balzar Family Clock Works and the city of Biddeford have invited the public to participate in a formal ceremony to celebrate the completed clock restoration at 10 a.m. Friday at City Hall.

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