Hampton Union, Tuesday, August 31, 2004
The old clock was a gift to the town back in 1897, and it served the people of Hampton well for almost 100 years, until 1990 when it was badly damaged in the fire that destroyed the Odd Fellows building on Lafayette Road.
After that fire, the surviving pieces of the clock were stored in at least a couple of places and forgotten until a few years ago when former Selectman Bonnie Searle pushed a search for the clock.
Now, the Board of Selectmen, after seeking the recommendation of the Heritage Commission, has decided to sell most of the parts to raise money to restore one of the four original faces of the clock and perhaps its bell.
These would be on display in Town Hall.
Searle thinks the board is acting too hastily and that the decision of whether to rebuild the clock should be placed before the town.
Her point is that the clock "was a gift to the citizens of the town" and "It should go before a vote to see whether the citizens want to get rid of it."
After all, when accepting the clock in 1897, the Newburyport Morning Herald quoted Hampton resident Charles M. Lamprey as saying that the town "accepts this clock and receives the gift with much heartfelt thanks and with the promise that she will perform her duty, keeping it in good order, that its face may be looked upon by generations to come."
And the town kept that promise until the fire took the clock away.
It has been estimated by the Heritage Commission that rebuilding the clock would cost $40,000.
The commission and selectmen think that is too much, even though there is historical value to the clock.
And, when a historic preservation group concedes that the cost to restore something would be more than the historical worth of the object, it does not do so lightly.
So, unless there is a groundswell of support for saving the clock, complete with fund-raising activities, it is probably best to mark its historical value in the manner adopted by selectmen.--the Hampton Union