This is how Biddeford’s historic mill clock tower is expected to look, once restored and placed on the RiverWalk, in this rendering by Biddeford native and Connecticut architect Mel LeBlond. Courtesy Image

BIDDEFORD — Picture the old clock tower that once sat atop the Lincoln Mill, proudly restored and standing tall at a green spot on the Biddeford RiverWalk, on a circular patio with benches to sit upon and contemplate the day.

It is happening, bit by bit, as the Friends of the Historic Biddeford Mill Clock Tower continue to work on its restoration. The target date for its placement is sometime in 2021.

These days, volunteers continue to plan and carry out restoration of the clock tower, built by the Pepperell Manufacturing in 1853, and originally installed on a pitched roof building at the back of the Lincoln Mill. In the 1870s, those sorts of buildings were considered a fire hazard, and so the clock tower was moved to the top of the Lincoln Mill.

It was removed from the Lincoln Mill in 2007 and placed on the ground, and there it remained, neglected and deteriorating. Some parts, like the arrow weathervane and bell had been sold earlier.

It was destined for demolition in 2014, but was rescued by a historian.

Now, a rendering by Connecticut architect and Biddeford native Mel LeBlond shows how it will look, once installed on the RiverWalk.

But first it needs to be restored, and the work is ongoing — a May work party involved the removal of lead paint from the structure.

Friends of Biddeford Historic Mill Clock Tower member and volunteer Dan LeBlond examines the work that needs to be done to the interior of the structure on June 23. Tammy Wells Photo

The next steps include repairing the domed roof, said Dan LeBlond, a longtime clock tower volunteer and retired contractor.

That involves stripping the deteriorated fascia and soffit from the structure, “sistering” some new beams beside faulty beams and related repairs.

“Simultaneously we’ll work on the upstairs ceiling and the belfry ceiling,” in the second phase of repairs, LeBlond said from inside the structure on June 23.

There are additional phases, including one that will add 18 feet to the clock tower, and another involving preparing the site, on the site of former waste incinerator.

These days, the mill clock tower sits protected and surrounded by a fence in the Lincoln Mill parking lot, where Friends of the Historic Biddeford Mill Clock Tower wait for the Biddeford community to champion the resurrection.

Inside, in the clock tower room, there are signatures of people who worked at the mill and were selected to wind the mill clock. One of them was Leon Harriman, who wrote his name on the wall on Feb. 20, 1934, according to a June 27 Friends of the Historic Biddeford Mill Clock Tower Facebook posting. “This is the first time I have seen my grandfather’s signature,” one of his granddaughters wrote.

On Friday, July 10, the Friends will be hosting an online event called The Biddeford Mill Clock Tower: A Rich History. They’re inviting people to join them as they explore the history of this Biddeford icon from its creation in 1853 to its future ascent on the RiverWalk in 2021. Due to COVID-19, the event will be via Zoom. Those wishing to view this are asked send an email address to [email protected] for a zoom link to the presentation, which will be emailed to them on the day of the event. The presentation begins at 7 p.m.

“We need more people to champion this (project),” said Louise Merriman of the Friends group.

While the group will be applying for grant funding to help pay for the restoration, there are also opportunities for people to make a contribution — with time, money or both.

Merriman said people can buy a 4 by 8-inch brick for $100 or an 8 by 8-inch brick for $250 in their name or in memory of a loved one. To buy a brick, checks should be made payable to: Heart of Biddeford, 205 Main St., Biddeford, ME 04005. Specify Biddeford Mill Clock Tower, which brick size, and the name for the brick.

The group is also looking for more volunteers to join in the effort.

“Too much of Biddeford has been lost. This is the beginning of saving valuable history,” Merriman said.

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