Building a new home for restored town clock

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By Liz Premo

Hampton Union , December 27, 2013

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Cliff Pratt, Jim Carrigan, Amy Hansen
The Hampton branch of Kennebunk Savings Bank has issued a $7,500
challenge grant to help raise funds to assist the Hampton Town
Clock Committee with the installation of the historic timepiece
on the grounds of Centre School. Pictured here with branch
manager Jim Carrigan (center) are committee members Cliff Pratt
and Amy Hansen. [Liz Premo photo]

HAMPTON — Laying the foundation for the Hampton Town Clock Committee's "Buy a Brick" fund-raising campaign is under way, and a challenge grant issued by a new bank in town has the potential to go far in making the project a timely success.

Jim Carrigan, branch manager for the Kennebunk Savings Bank on Winnacunnet Road, has announced that the bank has agreed to donate up to $7,500 as a matching gift in funds raised from this moment in time.

"We're really happy to be part of things that preserve history," said Carrigan, who has already purchased a commemorative brick in honor of his 6-year-old son. "It makes sense to have this beautiful historic piece (in) such a great spot."

The "great spot" to which Carrington referred is the planned site for the installation of the restored town clock on the grounds of Centre School. The design includes a brick courtyard, with the clock and its workings encased and clearly visible in a protective tower.

Bricks are currently available for purchase through the town's recreation office, the bank and other locations, and range from $100-$130 depending upon the number of engraved characters desired. All donations are tax-deductible.

"We want to make this project happen," said Carrigan. "It takes a lot of people and hard work."

With early backing by Ron Bourgeault and Northeast Auctions, the drive to restore the town clock and create a permanent home for it has been an ongoing and apparently successful volunteer effort over the last several years.

The painstaking task of making sure all parts of the restored clock mesh well and are in working order is nearing its completion.

"The clock is now being fine-tuned" by D'Avanza Clock Repair of Goffstown, said committee member Cliff Pratt, who along with Bud Desrochers and Harvey Webber have tackled the majority of the hands-on work.

The completed clock, which Pratt said has "a wonderful, rich history," will be transported to Centre School, where it will be assembled and installed once the grounds have been prepared.

With regard to the timing of the project, committee member Ben Moore said the committee wants to be able to raise all the funds by April, adding "We would be delighted to start construction next summer; 2014 is a good time to get it done. The sooner we have the money in-hand, the sooner we can (do it)."

Moore, who said the committee is "roughly at 40 percent of what we need" in funding to complete the project, also noted that "cash donations are also welcome" from those who wish to support the project but want to opt out of purchasing a brick.

Pratt's daughter-in-law, Amy Hansen, has been spearheading the "Buy a Brick" campaign through her position as operations assistant in the Hampton Recreation office. She said that many already-placed brick orders have honored everyone from teachers to children to pets.

Hansen was present at the town's 375th anniversary celebration in August when the clock's bell was on display and the public had the opportunity to ring it.

Cliff Pratt and Harvey Webber working on the town clock
Cliff Pratt and Harvey Webber work to restore the historic town clock.

"People were transported back in time," she recalled. "By instinct they put their hand over their heart. It was really touching. I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great for our children to have that memory?' It was moving to watch."

For Hansen's father-in-law the restoration of the 1898 non-electric clock is a project that's near and dear to his own heart.

"My great-great-great grandfather was a town elder," said Pratt. "When the clock was given to us, he promised the town would take care of it. I felt an obligation to take on this project."

With Kennebunk Savings Bank fully on board with the challenge grant, the committee is hoping to raise all that's needed to take the clock project to its completion.

"We've got the challenge on the table, and money in-hand, and we're ready to get this project done," said Moore. "We want the town to get behind this. It's a part of our Hampton history and we want to try to preserve as much of it as we can."

"The clock represents something long-standing," said Carrigan, noting that the clock is being preserved for generations to come. "We're asking the community to take a look at this."

Brick orders and donations may be made through the Kennebunk Savings Bank and at the Hampton Parks & Recreation office. Order forms are available at both locations, and on the town's Web site. For more information, call Amy Hansen at 926-3932.

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