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‘Now is the time’ to restore historic clock tower in Frederick

‘Now is the time’ to restore historic clock tower in Frederick

A defining feature in the skyline of historic Frederick, Maryland, is in danger of condemnation, but there’s a new effort to preserve Frederick’s oldest spire and the City of Frederick’s clock tower.

If you stand at 10 W Church St. and look straight up, you’ll see the stone face of Trinity Chapel topped with a wooden superstructure housing church bells, and above that, the clock.

‘”It was a collaboration between the congregation and the City of Frederick starting in 1790,” said Peter Brehm, president of the board of directors for the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ. “One wag reported it was to help the time-sensitive Germans of Fredericktown to keep time during the day.”

Over the centuries, the building has served as a church, Sunday school and community meeting place, as well as hosting the city clock, Brehm added.

“A few years ago we had a contractor tell us it was time to take a look at the structural integrity of the wooden superstructure,” he said. It’s replaced the original, rectangular lower tower portion of the stone steeple. A later engineering report detailed that an extensive restoration was needed.

“The cost is going to be just about a million dollars, and it will be to help restore structural components inside the clock tower room, as well as where the bells are housed,” Brehm said.

Brehm said the congregation has raised about half the money needed for the restoration, and has partnered with the city to get a $100,000 state of Maryland bond bill that the city holds. “So, we’re looking at a target of $500,000 to $600,000 to raise to finish up the project,” Brehm said.

If the money isn’t raised to restore the tower, the spire would have to removed and the steeple capped, according to Brehm.

“The engineering firm said now is the time to start work on this, do not delay,” said Brehm. For the time being, the church has stopped renting the building to outside groups. “And we stopped playing the chimes, out of an abundance of caution,” he said.

The church is seeking funding on different levels, including grants and perspective donors.

“No one has said the clock tower is going to fall in on itself,” said Brehm, after consulting with contractors. “They all suggest like when you discover a crack in the wall or water in the ceiling, act on it now and don’t wait.”

Donations are being collected .

clock tower
If you stand at 10 W Church St. and look straight up, you’ll see the stone face of Trinity Chapel topped with a wooden superstructure housing church bells, and above that, the clock. (91ŷ/Neal Augenstein)
church tower amongst trees
There’s a new effort to preserve Frederick’s oldest spire and the City of Frederick’s clock tower. (91ŷ/Neal Augenstein)
man in front of church entrance
Over the centuries, the building has served as a church, Sunday school and community meeting place, as well as hosting the city clock. (91ŷ/Neal Augenstein)
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clock tower
church tower amongst trees
man in front of church entrance

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with 91ŷ since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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