Superior Court clock tower makeover nearly complete in Houlton

7 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — There is a golden glow permeating downtown Houlton these days, thanks to a restoration project at the Aroostook County Superior Courthouse.

The makeover began in mid-June and consisted of replacing approximately 190 linear feet of detailed molding, trim and structural wood that had dry rot; scraping and sanding the entire exterior; and a complete repainting of the exterior of the structure, according to County Administrator Ryan Pelletier.

In addition, the clock tower cupola and weather vane were restored to their original grandeur with the application of gold leaf, thanks to the efforts of a private fundraiser, spearheaded by Houlton attorney Richard Rhoda. That fundraiser saw nearly $16,000 collected for the project.

County commissioners awarded the painting contracts to Mid-Maine Restoration of Boothbay during a May 17 meeting in Fort Kent. The restoration firm was awarded three bids for painting projects at the courthouse — $35,615 for general painting, $15,985 for the cupola, and $6,745 for roof work. The privately raised $16,000 helped reduce the overall cost to the County.

Rhoda previously stated that when the clock was added to the bell tower in the 1890s, it similarly was done with private funds from individuals in Houlton with an eye to the future. It has been a source of town pride for about 125 years.

Rhoda said he was aware of only one other clock tower in the state that features a gold leafed cupola. The other gold tower can be found on a steeple at Catherine McAuley High School, a private girls’ school in Portland.

In addition to the tower renovations, the rubberized roof that is located between the top of the clock tower and exposed bell house will be replaced.

According to Aroostook County Facilities Manager Bryan V. Jandreau the work is moving along nicely and may even conclude before the anticipated end date of Aug. 30.

“The contractors have been at it every day and folks in that area might have noticed the

free- swinging workers who are doing the work without scaffolding. These steeplejacks as they are called are true craftsman and professional tradesmen that are very skilled at their work of historical restoration,” Jandreau said.

A steeplejack scales buildings, chimneys and church steeples to carry out repairs or maintenance.

For more information regarding the restoration project, individuals should contact

Jandreau at 493-3318.