Hatboro officials are nearly 20 percent of the way there in terms of funding repairs and creating an endowment for the borough’s clock tower, which turned 200 this year.
Officials were successful in securing a $5,000 matching grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to cover the $10,000 cost of having clockmaker Keith Winship of Winships’ Pieces of Time devise a restoration plan for the clock, which sits atop borough hall.
And, in just three months, the Millbrook Society – the local fundraising arm of the initiative – raised all but the last $1,000 for the borough match, according to Millbrook Society President Lin Magaha.
“We feel confident that if we ask our supporters we should be able to achieve that,” Magaha said. “It just takes a few phone calls.”
Hatboro Borough Councilwoman Patty Fleming, one of roughly a dozen Hatboro volunteers serving on a committee for the clock’s restoration and preservation, said the state would send a contract by Sept. 1. State funds would be reimbursed as money is spent, Fleming said.
Once a plan is formalized, Bill Dixon, an aide in state Rep. Tom Murt’s Hatboro office, said state grants would be sought next year to carry out the necessary restorative measures.
Magaha estimates that repairs will cost $35,000.
“We’ve got to do our homework and essentially determine what needs to be done,” Magaha said. “Hopefully when we get it completed the public will be able to view it and students will be able to view it from their study classes, to see how the clock works.”
Clock enthusiast Charles Roche', whose balcony of his adjacent business is in direct view of the clock, spearheaded the clock restoration project in 2008 in hopes of repairs being completed this year, in time for the clock’s 200th anniversary. With that date no longer realistic, officials have set their sights on 2015, for Hatboro’s tricentennial.
“It’s hard to tell,” Roche’ said of the likelihood of the clock being restored by then. “I don’t even know what to predict.”
Built in 1812, the clock tower was a warm-up of sorts for a similar clock that Horsham native Isaiah Lukens built in 1839 for Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.
“We do have a great story,” Magaha said. “It’s something that Hatboro should be quite proud of. It speaks to the history.”
And it’s history that Roche’ hopes to perpetually preserve through the establishment of an endowment. From the beginning, Roche’ set $50,000 as a goal for the project - $35,000 for the restoration and $15,000 for future upgrades.
“To start the clock we don’t actually have to have $50,000,” Roche’ said. “We need to have $35,000 and even that can be in stages.”
To get involved
Donations can be mailed to the Millbrook Society, P.O. Box 506, Hatboro PA 19040. Please make note on checks that the contribution is for the Lukens clock tower project.