Biddeford has won a $150,000 historic preservation grant to help restore the historic clock tower on City Hall.

The grant was awarded by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation through the “Partner in Preservation: Celebrating Diversity on Main Street” campaign and was based on public online voting. The money headed to Biddeford is part of a total of $1.6 million in grants awarded for preservation projects.

Biddeford was one of 20 communities across the country chosen to participate in the contest. The clock tower came in third place overall, finishing ahead of projects in large cities like Los Angeles and Chicago.

“It’s truly amazing to see that a community the size of Biddeford was able to collect tens of thousands of votes and rise above some of the largest cities in the country to win,” said Mayor Alan Casavant. “That’s really a testament to the dedication of our citizens and the passion that this community has for this local icon.”

The condition of the historic clock tower atop City Hall has been a concern of city officials for years, but they have so far been unable to sell residents on the need to repair it and fund other upgrades in the 124-year-old building. Voters rejected referendums to fund the work in 2007, 2012 and 2015. City officials in the past have estimated it would cost at least $1.8 million to fix the clock tower.

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

The clock stopped working four years ago and decorative railings were removed from the tower when pieces started falling to the street below.

Work that needs to be done to restore the clock tower includes regilding the copper dome, fixing wood paneling and windows on the tower, restoring stained-glass windows, redoing the roof under the bell, and fixing the clock itself.

The grant money will be administered by the Heart of Biddeford and used to restore the clock and rebuild four faces of decorative work outside the clock room.

“This contest not only gave us an opportunity to talk about Biddeford’s iconic clock tower, but also to emphasize the contributions of Biddeford’s diverse population, past and present,” Heart of Biddeford Executive Director Delilah Poupore said in a statement. “With this win, I think the community has answered the question, ‘What Time is it?’ It’s time to restore the clock tower to working order, and it’s time to include everyone as we revitalize Biddeford.”

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