AUGUSTA — Two historic clocks that haven’t run for years, including a tower clock sitting prominently above Cony Circle, have been restored to their original appearance and are keeping time at the old former Cony High School flatiron building once again.

The Judge Cony clock on the third-floor landing, which was repaired recently by Jim Bryant, is seen Thursday at the Cony Flatiron Senior Residence in Augusta.

The tower clock at the front peak of the distinctive flatiron building was restored, complete with gleaming golden hands and Roman numerals marking the time of day, by Wayne clock restoration expert Jim Bryant. Its behind-the-face working bits, which already had been converted — poorly, Bryant said — to run on electricity were replaced with new parts which, still powered by electricity, should have the large, black-faced clock keeping accurate time into the future.

Joe Gould, property manager for Stewart Management, the firm that manages the building, said the tower clock probably hasn’t run since sometime in the 1980s.

“They’re amazing,” Gould said of the two history-laden clocks restored by Bryant. “I think people are going to enjoy being able to set their watches by the tower clock. Just don’t do it while you’re driving on the rotary. We have a few residents here who went to high school in this building. They’re really excited about it. It’s wonderful to see, because it’s part of history.”

The other restored clock is a bit smaller and sits inside the flatiron building at the top of its main stairwell, in a building that now provides housing for senior citizens; but that clock is of no less significance, especially with its connection to Judge Daniel Cony, namesake of the school, who gave the clock to the school and whose reminder to the thousands of students who passed by it over the years, “Time is fleeting,” is written on the clock face.

Bryant kept the text inside the clock — “Hon. Daniel Cony, Time is Fleeting” — but replaced its inner workings and removed paint from the outer ring of the clock to put shimmering gold leaf, the original material of the clock, around the its face.

Bryant, 83, has worked on tower and other clocks for several decades. He also maintains about a dozen clocks in central Maine, including, when the building is not under renovation as it is now, the clock in Augusta’s Hartford Fire Station and the tower clock at Old South Congregational Church in Hallowell. He’s also worked on clocks abroad, including installing a tower clock in a 300-year-old castle in Belgium. He said he has no interest in taking on additional projects.

Security officer Bob Vachon as he walks up the center steps of the old Cony High School flatiron building in Augusta in 1999, when it was still being used a high school. Vachon was also a high school student in the building.

He said he’d wanted to work on the tower clock in the flatiron building for years, seeing, when he drove by, that it was no longer functioning. He said he’s thankful the company now running the senior housing at the flatiron building contacted him and hired him to restore the two clocks.

“They hadn’t been working for quite a few years, and they had been mutilated and destroyed, with the wrong people doing installation work,” Bryant said. “Now you’re looking at how they looked in the beginning. It’s done right.”

Mary Mayo-Wescott, a founder of Friends of the Flatiron, a group formerly active in efforts to save the building when its future was in doubt after it stopped being used as a school when a new Cony High School opened in 2006, said it is exciting to see the two clocks restored and keeping time once again. The 1958 Cony graduate said the message inscribed in the interior clock, “Time is Fleeting” was an important message for young Cony students to see as they passed by.

“Every day, when I went to school there, we’d pass it,” she said. “I’m very happy to see (the clocks restored). It’s so significant and important. It’s so important we know our history. It teaches us to have courage and hope.”

Developer Cyndy Taylor, of Housing Initiatives of New England, the firm that has a long-term lease on the city-owned flatiron building to provide senior housing there, said she had wanted to restore the two clocks as part of the extensive renovations done to the building when it was converted from a school to an apartment complex, but there wasn’t enough money to do so.

She said restoring the clock and following up with a proposal to focus lights upon it so it is visible at night, cost $11,000 to $12,000.

The top image from March 2013 and bottom image from January show the renovation work at the Cony Flatiron Senior Residence in Augusta. Jim Bryant recently repaired the tower clock. The hands are gold-leafed marine aluminum, and the new clock face is UV-acrylic finished to look like slate.

“It has always been my goal to do it. It was like the last missing piece” to the flatiron renovations, said Taylor, who also oversaw the renovation of Augusta’s riverside former City Hall into senior housing, now called the Inn at City Hall. “I think they’ll last a long time.”

Julie O’Brien, a 1975 graduate of Cony High School, tied the restoration and planned lighting up of the tower clock to the city’s under-development plans to mark the state of Maine bicentennial in 2020.

She said while it may be early to start celebrating the bicentennial, she’s hopeful the clock’s restoration will help raise local residents’ community spirit and put them in a frame of mind to appreciate the city’s and the state’s history.

She said the clocks turned out great and are gorgeous, which she said she had no doubt about, because she knew if Taylor was involved, the project would be, she said, “top-notch.”

The longtime resident and former state legislator said people have asked for years about the unmoving clock hands high above Cony Circle.

“I’ve lived here forever and people have asked, forever, why the tower clock (in the flatiron) doesn’t work,” O’Brien said. “It’s an icon of this city, part of the fabric of the city.

No city money went into the restoration of the clocks. The Cony class of 1967 contributed funds toward the restoration and lighting, and O’Brien and Taylor said they anticipate other Cony alumni may donate toward the project as well. Donations may be made by contacting Taylor at Housing Initiatives of New England, 1 Cony St. in Augusta, or by calling 774-8812.

Jim Bryant, who repaired the Judge Cony and towers clocks, poses Thursday at the Cony Flatiron Senior Residence in Augusta.

The lease agreement for the flatiron building specifies that artifacts in the building remain the property of the city. Taylor said she secured permission from City Manager William Bridgeo to have Bryant do the restoration work on the clocks.

Bridgeo confirmed that Taylor had gotten his permission to fix the clocks, and he praised the work Housing Initiatives of New England has done in re-purposing prominent historic buildings in Augusta.

“I think it is wonderful that HINE has the resources and the desire to do this,” Bridgeo said. “Cindy and her not-for-profit company are and have been a blessing to our community.”

Bryant said Gould was of great help in completing the work on the clocks, while Gould, in turn, said it was an honor to work with someone of Bryant’s skill.

As part of recent renovations, Jim Bryant installed this control panel, photographed Thursday, that controls the Judge Cony clock in the stairwell and the tower clock at the Cony Flatiron Senior Residence in Augusta.

Both clocks are tied into a master control system inside the flatiron building, which Bryant said can be reset quickly, should the electricity go out.

Bryant replaced the numbers on the tower clock, which he said had been fitted with the wrong size numerals at some point. The interior clock, in addition to many years of wear and tear, had been damaged by a stray paintball shot, which probably occurred during the a period when local police used the building, after it closed as a school, for training.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj


Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.