Even when the century-old Willard clock tower sat in a field next to a sewage treatment plant for 17 years sinking into decay, former Willardite Rick Reed saw potential through the rusted face dials and the old copper clad cupola.
All that potential and more has been revealed in planning, blueprints and renderings of what can be a gem for Willard and Huron County.
It’s been four years and with the help of local volunteers, a design developed, fundraising began for the restoration of old parts to rebuild a jewel for his hometown. It’s a multi-faceted idea for a small town says Reed. We just came off one of our best years fundraising in 2017 for the project and now they are in site of saying start the build. Reed wrote a 600-page history book using photography from Willard’s past and today called “Willard, Ohio Rediscovering History.” The hard-back coffee table book is on sale now to raise money for the project and available in Willard.
The new structure will use refurbished parts off the original clock that sat on the old city hall downtown for 84 years. Once it’s craned into place the old bell will ring again. The old cast iron clock dials and hands will work as designed years ago. The old motor will be repaired and used as a static display along with other items inside the new tower. Windows will be added to the structure to see the old motor. A former Willard resident in California has donated the lighting for the top of the tower. Another donated the foundation.
“This old clock was craving to be used again and it is here to work,” Reed said. “Willard is on the move and residents are excited about this clock project.”
Cities all over the country are refurbishing and building new clocks for their downtowns. Look at the city of Huron with a new clock, Milan redid their clock tower after a fire years ago. The old Clock on the Old Shelby, Ohio Bank building is working again after refurbishment. This will be a good thing for Willard using the old-world craftsmanship from the 104-year-old clock. The group has done allot of challenging work getting to this point. But they have a long way to go.
Growing up in Willard, Reed knew exactly what the structure was and why it was important to Willard to save. We have lost way too much in history that could have been used as a draw for visitors and to show potential new business we want them to come and build here. Willard has much to offer. Reed knows the clock can help with that.
The clock tower will be used for diverse types of things, Reed said. This can be used as a staging area for parades, marathons, festivals, flea markets, outdoor concerts and more. It’s a profound way to keep the past alive and mix it with the present and future of Willard. The Roy Doster clock plaza is now done and being used where the clock tower will sit. It hasn’t been easy but it is moving along.
Reed would like to see more of the younger generations get involved. After all they are the ones that will really benefit from this in the years to come. They could do fundraisers for the clock and have some fun with it. It teaches volunteerism and how to work with others for a common cause, Reed says.
Donations are still needed and several business sponsorships are available. To make a donation write a check to Save Willard’s Clock and mail to P.O Box 367 Willard, Ohio 44890. If you are a business that would like to sponsor a portion of the clock you can contact any of the Willard clock committee members or e-mail Rick at [email protected] Reed’s number is 812-379-2468 and available anytime.
You can also see updates on social media. Just look for “Save Willards Clock” on Facebook or at www.savewillardsclock.com.