The digital sign atop the Time & Temperature building in Portland remained unlit on Friday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

For the past six decades, a quick glance at the roof of Portland’s Time & Temperature Building has provided anyone within miles of Monument Square with the time, temp and other short, sometimes quirky messages.

But the sign has been dark since March 10, prompting light-hearted speculation on social media about what happened to one of Portland’s most well-loved features. Fans of the iconic sign won’t have to wait much longer for its return.

Chris Rhoades, one of the owners of the Congress Street building, said a leak shut down the software that controls the sign and attempts to fix it remotely didn’t work out.

“As a result, we could not spring forward with the time change a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “So rather than display the wrong time, we shut down the sign until we could get it fixed.”

Rhoades hopes to have the sign back online next week.

The 9-foot-high digital display is as recognizable as the 14-story Time & Temp building itself, a defining feature of Portland’s skyline for the past century. Once the tallest building in Maine, it first opened in 1924 with ornate architecture, upscale shops, a glassed-in mezzanine and balconies illuminated by a massive skylight. The building has been home to a bank, Maine’s first arcade and the state’s prototype for a modern shopping mall. Developers now want to use it for a hotel, apartments, restaurant, co-working space and retail center.


“We love the Time & Temp clock. It’s just kind of legendary,” said Cary Tyson, executive director of Portland Downtown. “I would imagine that you might not notice it’s off the first or second time, but eventually it catches your eye. It’s normally part of the landscape and it isn’t at the moment.”

Since the sign went dark, people have turned to Reddit, Facebook and X to ask what was going on and, in some cases, share humorous conspiracy theories about what had happened.

Two weeks after it was turned off, Factory 3, a makerspace in Portland, posted a photo on Facebook of the sign with a (fake) message reading “FACTORY 3.”

“It’s been a focal point in Portland’s skyline for so long and we’re curious if anyone knows why it has suddenly gone dark,” the accompanying message read.

People walk past the Time & Temperature building on Congress Street on Friday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

In addition to the time and temperature, the sign displays city information, fundraising initiatives and, most often, the “CALL JOE” advertisement for the law offices of Joe Bornstein, the late personal injury lawyer whose ads made him a household name in the state.

The law firm said it loves leasing the sign and everyone is looking forward to seeing it fixed, said Nathan Bergeron, the firm’s marketing director. Throughout the year, the firm allows local nonprofits to use the sign to promote events, including Portland Downtown’s 207 Day events in February.

“Being able to donate the sign to nonprofits has been a big part of the community for several years and we’re hopeful it will continue,” he said.

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