CAMDEN, Maine — From sea, downtown and the top of Mount Battie, the clock atop the steeple of the Chestnut Street Baptist Church has been a landmark in Camden for nearly 150 years.

But the steeple, clock and spire are in need of significant repairs. The church has started a fundraising campaign to raise $538,000 for the work.

The church congregation organized in Camden in 1808 when Thomas Jefferson was president. The church was built in 1837.

The clock was added to the historic building in 1868. Fundraising chairman Jeff Foltz said the goal is to restore the steeple, clock and spire to their original condition.

The clock is owned and maintained by the town.

“This is an iconic landmark,” Foltz said.

The landmark is used by sailors to navigate coming into Camden Harbor. From atop Mount Battie, it is the second most visible landmark, second only to the harbor, he said.

“When people take photographs of the downtown, the photos are anchored by the steeple,” he said.

An inspection of the steeple and spire uncovered serious deficiencies. The spire is full of mold and has extensive water damage. The wood where some bolts anchor the clock to the steeple have rotted away completely, he said.

A few years ago, a leaning was detected in the steeple. A general contractor was called in and it was determined at the basement level, that it had moved 12 inches off center. Two beams were erected, anchored in concrete footings so leaning would not worsen.

Foltz said he hopes that the work can begin next summer.

In a flier seeking donations, Pastor Adam Kohlstrom talks about the importance of restoration.

“If the question is ‘What is best for Chestnut Street Baptist,’ then removing the steeple is our least expensive and most efficient option. However, if the question is ‘What is best for our community,’ then we must restore the steeple. The love of God compels us to act in the best interest of this community and offer our best efforts to restore this steeple as a gift of historical beauty given to Camden and the Midcoast community,” Kohlstrom said.

The Chestnut Street Baptist Church membership, which totals about 123, has already contributed $85,000 toward structural work and has appropriated another $100,000 towards the overall campaign.

Donations can be made at saveoursteeple.com. The mailing address for the church is P.O. Box 833, Camden, ME 04843. Donations are tax deductible.