If you have driven through West Townsend recently, you may have noticed the golden gleam of the newly restored numerals and minute markers on the First Baptist Church's tower clock. You may have also noticed a new fundraising sign for the work on the steeple and clock.
The exterior of the clock has been in need of restoration since at least 1976, when the family of Richard & Mildred Whitney moved to West Townsend. Richard Whitney ran a clock repair business for more than 60 years. The Whitneys also had a hand over the years in keeping the tower clock at First Baptist Church in good order. When Richard Whitney passed away in 2011, he left a generous bequest for the restoration of the clock dials.
The clock, made by George Handel Holbrook of Medway, was installed about 1836 when the church was built. It is still in very good condition mechanically, and volunteers have wound it weekly by hand throughout the years.
The current exterior restoration work is in the expert hands of George Burgess, a third generation steeplejack from Rockport, Maine. He has reproduced, gilded and installed new minute marks and numerals and repaired and repainted the wooden dials. John Rives, a clock repair professional from Worcester, has reproduced the ornate three foot-long wooden hands, which await installation.
When the work is complete, volunteers can begin winding and set the clock in motion again.
In order to complete work on the clock and repair the historic steeple above it, the church has opened the "Steeple and Clock Fund" to any in the wider community who may wish to contribute. Donations may be sent to the First Baptist Church of West Townsend, 461 Main St., West Townsend, MA 01474, or give online through PayPal at www.prayergarden.us.