The Bath City Clock has struck the nerves of some of its neighbors. by Chris Chase
Coastal Journal staff
BATH — The Bath City Clock, located in the steeple of the First Baptist Church of Bath, 851 Washington St., has been a familiar site for residents of the city since the structure was first installed on June 8, 1855.
The clock, which towers over the city, was originally commissioned by the city council earlier, as a replacement for a clock in the South Church, which had burned down.
Perhaps the most noticeable part of the bell is its distinctive ring, which sounds out the hour every hour. But it is that distinctive ring – which had been silent for years up until just a few years ago when the city paid to repair the mechanism – which has been causing problems for some residents and business owners that live right next to the clock tower.
Shadi Towfighi in particular, the owner of the Kismet Inn, has had customers tell her they will never come back solely due to the bell.
“They loved the inn, they loved the breakfast, they loved all of that, but they are definitely not going to return. That was the first week that the clock was back on,” said Towfighi.
When Towfighi purchased the property in 2004, the bell was not functioning, so they did not have to deal with the noise.
According to Towfighi, due to her inn being so close to the clock, with a number of rooms being on the same level as the height of the bell, the ringing has caused discomfort for guests who can’t tolerate the bell that chimes at all times of the night.
“I have never had a guest that has come to stay at the inn that has said they will not return because they saw something wrong with me, because they saw something wrong with the food, because they saw something wrong with the decorations, none of them have ever said that,” said Towfighi. “It is only due to the bell. One of my guests has even said that she will definitely not return because of the bell.”
Towfighi shared multiple emails, all referencing the bell as a source of discomfort. One woman wrote “Unfortunately, as wonderful as you and your inn are, we will not return nor recommend it to our friends until we know the bells will be silent at night.”
The Bath City Council has tried a few solutions, but thus far has been unable to reduce the volume of the bell to everyone’s satisfaction. According to Councilor Bernard Wyman of Ward 4, there have been attempts to muffle the bell with a rubber sheathe on the clapper itself. So far, these efforts have been unsuccessful.
“They put one layer of the sheathe on, and waited for it to ring, and it didn’t make any difference,” said Wyman. According to Wyman, they either didn’t help or caused the bell to not ring at all.
“Most of the councilors, from what they’re hearing from their constituents, they want to leave it alone,” said Wyman.
Towfighi agrees that the bell is an important part of Bath’s heritage, and doesn’t want it stopped completely, just between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m.
Methods for this have been suggested, such as remaking the mechanism of the clock in order to cause it to ring only during certain times. But according to Wyman, the cost would be high.
“It cost us $5,000 to get the bell back into shape, and it would cost us $15,000 to do something about it,” said Wyman.
That cost is something the city will not be able to absorb easily, especially if it is only a few people who are having issues.
Towfighi plans to start a petition to do something about the bell, and hopes to bring it to the attention of the rest of the community. But until anything is done, the bell will continue to ring in the hour, and ring in the ears of guests at the Kismet Inn.