Gwinn clock tower restoration

GWINN – One missing piece of the downtown Gwinn landscape has been put into place.

The new clock tower, which replaces the one removed for safety reasons in 1990, was placed on the top of the town hall building Thursday, to the delight of many people involved in the restoration project.

The clock was built in1914 on top of what was then the fire station and is now the police station.

“I think it’s been kind of a big gaping hole in the skyline here for the last 20 years, especially for the people who had grown up here or been here a long time,” said Rick Wills, president of the Forsyth Township Historical Society.

Gerry Stille, co-chair of the Forsyth Township Clock Tower Committee, said about $65,000 has been raised for the new structure, which will house the original clock. Bids originally were estimated at $140,000, he pointed out, but the committee decided to act as its own contractor, using volunteer help when it could.

The tower’s first section was placed, while the placement of the second section and masonry work are scheduled to be done Tuesday.

Wills said the effort to bring a new clock tower to town has been going on for six years, but the breakthrough came when Paul Sirois, an employee with the township’s public works department, became project manager. The township allowed Sirois to focus on the tower project instead of his regular duties.

Stille stressed Sirois’s wages were paid for by money raised for the clock tower restoration committee.

“It’s not the taxpayers’ money,” Wills said.

Brickwork should be completed in about two and a half weeks, Stille said, with the hope the finished product will be ready before Christmas.

Whatever the finish date, Stille said the new tower adds something to the downtown landscape.

“I think it helps to complete it,” he said.

Jeanette Maki, committee co-chair and president of the Gwinn-Sawyer Area Chamber of Commerce, noted the clock is original and needs an update.

“I want to emphasize we’re still looking for donations because we want to automate the clock,” Maki said.

Donations can be sent to: the Forsyth Township Historical Committee (attention: clock tower), P.O. Box 851, Gwinn, MI 49841.

Sirois said of the clock tower’s return to the city, “It’s wonderful for the community. It’s a good day.”

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.