AUBURN — The bell in the iconic clock tower atop the Androscoggin County Courthouse will soon ring every hour, and the four faces of the clock will accurately tell the time.

Calling it a symbol of the county and a source of pride, the Androscoggin County Commission accepted two bids to restore the historic clock tower.

With $300,000 set aside for the project by last year’s commissioners, this year’s group authorized no more than $200,000 be spent to complete the restoration.

The breakdown includes $121,500 for exterior work on the roof and $45,000 to restore the clock and bell. The remainder would cover painting, woodwork and any potential cost overruns.

That amount is far less than the lone bid of $296,000 received last year for the project.

Dating to 1856, the clock tower contains an E. Howard & Davis clock mechanism and a bell manufactured by the Henry N. Hooper Co. of Boston, which was one of the successors of the Revere Foundry of Boston, founded by Paul Revere. 

While the majority of the commissioners favored he project, Isaiah Lary of Wales vehemently opposed spending $45,000 to restore the clock and bell.

Lary, who favored fixing the roof due to potential safety issues, argued that spending money to have a working clock did not serve the taxpayers of Androscoggin County.

“It’s a waste to spend $45,000 for a clock,” Lary said.

An accurate clock may have been important when it was built, but nearly everyone today has the time on a smartphone or wears a watch, Lary said. Having heard no complaints that the clock did not work, Lary pointed out that several clock towers in the Twin Cities also do not work. 

The rest of the commissioners were not swayed by Lary’s arguments. They felt it important to preserve the historic building to its former glory.

“I don’t want us to lower our standards to those of the other buildings in town (with clocks that don’t work),” Zachary Maher of Poland said.

“This is the heart of our community,” Alfreda Fournier of Auburn said.

The commission voted 6-1 to award the bids to Hahnel Bros. Co. of Lewiston for the exterior work and David W. Graf Tower Clock Restoration and Repair of Kittery.

Graf’s bid included $10,000 to restore the bell and $35,000 to repair the clock.

David Cote, facilities director for the county, said the work is expected to be completed by mid-October.

In other business, commissioners unanimously approved a bid from AAA Police Supply to provide ammunition to the Sheriff’s Office for $5,410.

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The clock tower atop the Androscoggin County Courthouse has been an iconic feature of the Auburn skyline since it was built in 1856.

A bell manufactured by the Henry N. Hooper Co. of Boston sits in the clock tower of the Androscoggin County Courthouse. The company was one of the successors of the Revere Foundry of Boston, founded by Paul Revere.


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