The Bar Harbor Town Clock hasn’t always been at its present location, although to see the clock today one might think the clock, the fountain and the bandstand were the crowning jewels for Bar Harbor’s Village Green — as if the three were always at their present locations. The clock was presented to the Town in time for the Town of Eden’s centennial celebration in July 1896, by the Village Improvement Association after years of contentious debate. Mr. Fred C. Lynam, on behalf of the Association, presented the resolution before the Town Meeting, in March 1896, for the acceptance of a village clock to be placed on Main Street in the village of Bar Harbor. The clock was first placed on the sidewalk in front of Mr. Albert Bee’s store (now the Blue Heron) and the Bar Harbor Light & Power Co. supplied the clock with illumination of its clock dial free of charge during the summers.
The present day Village Green on the corner of Main and Mount Desert Street was then the site of a popular Bar Harbor hotel, The Grand Central. However, the Grand Central did not have all the modern conveniences like other popular houses in Bar Harbor, and the large wooden structure was falling behind the new age fully electrified and complete plumbing of the 1890’s. The hotel closed at the end of the season of ‘97’ and was razed during the winter of 1899, leaving cellar walls and a hole in the ground on Main Street. The Town purchased the lot for a proposed site for a new town hall and so-called ‘town lot’ stood idle for several years. In the recorded minutes of the Association the lot was described as unsightly.
Later, in the summer of 1904, the officers of the VIA approached the town selectmen about a ten year lease of the town lot for the purpose of constructing and landscaping a village green square. The proposal was accepted at Eden’s Town Meeting in March 1905, and the project was embraced by the VIA as an endeavor and demonstration of the Association’s serious business: that of village improvement. Immediately upon acceptance of the village green project, Eden’s selectmen declared that since the clock was owned by the
Association that it be moved to the new park. Nine years before, when the Association presented the clock to the Town, the town of Eden accepted ownership and upkeep; the VIA, however, had secured the generosity of B.H. Power and Light Co. and provided services for winding the eight day, weight driven clock since its erection. The selectmen suggested that the clock be moved to center of the new park so as not to obstruct traffic on Main Street, which was seen to be a problem on the narrow sidewalk in front of Bee’s store.
The V.I.A. Village Green Committee, first chaired by George B. Dorr, decided to widen the sidewalk along Main Street so as to provide the best visibility of the clock from both directions of Main Street.
By Phil Cunningham, 1996