READFIELD — A piece of Readfield history will live on after the Union Meeting House’s tower clock was recently brought back to its former glory by David Graf of Tower Clock Restoration & Repair in Kittery.

About 30 residents gathered at the Readfield Union Meeting House on Sept. 24 for a small ceremony to mark the return of the clock, which is nearly a century old.

The initiative to restore the town’s iconic building kicked off in 2019 when Jack and Anita Smart of Hallowell offered a $50,000 matching grant. The match was met after 83 people contributed a total of $63,554 towards the restoration.

The clock, installed in 1930, required weekly maintenance in order to keep perfect time. In the 1940s and ’50s, Meeting House attendance declined, and the weekly work, which included winding and oiling, was neglected.

It was around this time that former resident Ernest Bracy began to organize with community friends to ensure that the clock remained accurate, and also that the building was weathertight.

As part of this effort, he worked to revise the Union Meeting House Company’s charter to allow public funding for maintenance and upkeep of the building and clock.

Bracy, along with Hector Cadarett and Dorothy Lanctot, was named trustee under the revised charter.

Treasurer John Perry shows the gold hands of the recently repaired clock Friday at the Union Meeting House in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Meeting house treasurer and clock restoration project manager John Perry said there is no record of how these three prioritized the clock in their duties, but speculated they kept the timepiece running to illustrate that the building was still alive and worthy of public support.

Over 50 years later, Perry and others on the Meeting House board of trustees are working toward a similar goal.

With the newly-repaired clock returned to Readfield, they’ve achieved a milestone of sorts, but there’s more to be done. The group’s long-term goal is the structural and aesthetic restoration of the clock tower and belfry, including the installation of a replica spire and weathervane. They also want to renovate the vestry next door, which will be used as a gathering place for all manner of social activities, including meals and receptions.

John Perry, demonstrates how to wind the recently repairs clock Friday at the Readfield Union Meeting House in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

With the cost of all of the restorations estimated at around $722,000, plus $191,000 in operating costs, the board began fundraising in late 2020. A full breakdown of the project and fundraising goals is available on the unionmeetinghouse.org website.

Perry said he hopes to have the entire building restored in time for its 200th anniversary in 2028.

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