Marblehead's Town Meeting Monday unanimously approved a project to restore the clock tower at Abbot Hall, which has extensive damage from harsh weather and fluctuating temperatures.
The project now goes to a town wide vote next month.
The project will cost over $2.4 million and if it is approved, construction would start in February of 2014, and is estimated to wrap up in November of 2014.
"The building itself has become Marblehead's icon," said Town Planner Rebecca Curran. "But one of the important things about it is that it's doable as a repair and restoration project right now. If it deteriorates further, if more time goes by, it would turn into a more expensive reconstruction project."
Work on the clock tower includes repairing or replacing cracked turned columns, cutting and repointing existing exterior brick and stonework, excavating and cleaning interior structural cracks, and re-setting displaced keystone, among other things.
"In some ways it's the most recognized structure in Marblehead, and on the North Shore of Boston," said Town Selectman James Nye. "It's a functioning building also, not just a museum."
Nye added that the clock tower, which is about 140 years old, has been beaten down by weather and although the town has somewhat maintained the structure, it is beyond minimum maintenance. Water is seeping through the bricks and rusting out the interior beams, Nye said.
In order to pay for the repairs, the town would take out a 20-year bond with a 3.5 percent interest rate. The annual property tax cost to the owner of a $476,000 home - the median in town - would be $15.89.
In a January meeting, the Marblehead Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to award a $34,213 contract to architectural and planning firm McGinley Kalsow & Associates, Inc. of Somerville. The company will be working with engineering firm, Structures North Consulting Engineers, in restoring the brick and stone tower at Abbot Hall.
At the meeting Monday night, the architectural company guided the town meeting attendees through a Powerpoint presentation of the necessary repairs.
Nye said it was unclear what would happen with next month's vote.
"I would hope that it would be approved, but you just never know who shows up," Nye said. "I think most people value Abbot Hall. It is a lot of money, it's a real lot of money to put on the tax payers, but it's one of the most iconic symbols of Marblehead. Nobody ever wants to spend money on their house, but you have to."
The Board of Selectmen will decide on the date of next month's vote at a meeting Friday morning.