A tower of scaffolding is going up this week outside the Old Whaling Church as work begins to restore the clock tower of the 172-year-old landmark.

From the clock faces to the white spires topped with gold-leaf pineapples, the historic church on Edgartown’s Main street will get a facelift to repair damage that comes with age and exposure to the elements.

“It’s such an iconic landmark,” said Chris Scott, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust, which owns most of the historic building. The clock tower, which is featured on the preservation trust’s logo, belongs to the town.

Highest point in town, whaling church tower is exposed to the elements. — David Welch

“It represents Edgartown, it represents our Island’s whaling history, a church built by whaling captains,” he said, taking note of the mix of Gothic and Greek revival features, typical of the whaling heyday. “It’s a real piece of American history. We’re fortunate to have it and it’s our responsibility to take care of it.”

The pediment — the triangular part of the building that rests on six columns — will get a fresh coat of paint and trim replaced as needed, Mr. Scott said. But most of the work will take place from the roofline and above, and Mr. Scott said the goal is to do as much as possible once the scaffolding is up, which is a big project in and of itself.

Marine plywood that was used for the last round of repairs around the 1980s has reached the end of its lifespan, Mr. Scott said, and some areas have rotted. The clock tower was originally built with pine, he said, but in the 1840s pine was from old growth trees and more solid than it is now. This time around the plywood will be replaced with mahogany.

“It’s historically appropriate but very durable,” Mr. Scott said. “The tower gets exposed, as you can imagine, to a huge amount of weather. It’s the highest point in town, and there’s nothing protecting it.”

A small leak where the tower meets the roof will be repaired before it gets larger.

Town landmark was built by whaling captains during the whaling heyday in Edgartown. — David Welch

The white spires and the crenellations (the notched edges around the top of the tower) will be rebuilt as needed, and the four clock faces will be restored. The golden pineapples at the top of each spire will be repaired with gold leaf.

New England Scaffolding is working on the project, and John Anderson is the project manager. Myles Thurlow, the preservation trust’s craftsman who also works on the Flying Horses Carousel, is the lead carpenter.

“He loves this type of work,” Mr. Scott said. “If you’re a craftsman, you don’t have a lot of opportunity to work on landmarks as significant as these.”

At the April 2015 town meeting, held below the tower in the pews of the Old Whaling Church, voters approved spending $100,000 in community preservation act funding on the project. The preservation trust is asking for another $60,000 in CPA funding this year after the discovery of additional rot.

“It should look great by the time we’re finished,” Mr. Scott said.

Mr. Scott said they hope to have the project completed by the end of November, just before Christmas lights go up in downtown Edgartown.

In addition to the historic parts of the tower, there is an additional repair: the pole extending from the top of the tower where the town places a “star of Christmas” light each year will be replaced with a stainless steel rod.

This article was updated to clarify that while the preservation trust owns the church, the town owns the clock and clock tower.