Clock tower makes long-awaited return

·3 min read

May 10—WILLARD — After years of planning and fundraising, the much-anticipated clock tower has arrived back in Willard.

The clock is now located in its new home in the downtown Roy Doster Plaza.

For Rick Reed and everybody else behind the return of the clock, it was 12 long years of work.

"I remember the clock ringing at midnight on a school night," said Reed, a Willard native who now lives in Hope, Ind. "I would be awake and I would hear that clock go off every night. When it rang 12 times I knew I had six or seven hours of sleep ahead of me.

"If it rang three times I know I had three or four hours of sleep," he added. "I've always enjoyed history and the clock. It has a unique look to it. No two clocks look alike. They are all unique."

Reed talked about the history of the clock.

"They put it up in 1913 and it wasn't finished until 1914," he said. "They took it down in 1997 because they had some structural problems. My mom called me and told me they were taking it down. My mother passed away in 2011 and when I came back to town to settle her estate, I started thinking about it."

Reed said the clock was eventually found sitting in a field just rotting away.

"It was in the field 12 to 14 years," he said. "My background is in fundraising. This is something I thought we could do. Salvage what we could to refurbish the clock. It took 12 years. We formed the clock committee in 2012.

"The old clock was located on the city hall building on the north end of town at Woodland Street and Myrtle Avenue. The new clock is on the south end of town. The ground there is a little more stable. We wanted to have it out in the open more."

It took a lot of money to fix the old clock.

"Our goal was to raise $300,000," he said. "We didn't quite make that. The clock is paid for. We still have more work to do on it as it stands. We are going to brick it up. We have some electrical stuff to do. We have some facade stuff to do.

"Hopefully, down the road, we are hoping the city of Willard will do some upgrades around the clock area."

What is the status of the clock now?

"It will be working, hopefully, by the end of this week," Reed said. "The clock traveled from St. Louis to Willard in two days. They left some things off because of the travel. They have some things to put back in to run the clock. The clock-tower bell goes in sometime today (Wednesday). That weighs 1,000 pounds."

Reed said the bell will work and the clock will tell time, with the lights at the top of the tower also functional.

"It will be an on-and-off thing until they finish it up," he said. "Hopefully, the roof will be finished. The rest will be done when they can come back to finish it up. It is a copper roofing and we will turn it green with a chemical spray to make it look green like it used to look like."

Reed said it was a real team effort.

"Thank-you to the committee and to the people who donated," he said. "And thank-you to the contractors who are helping to finish it up."

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