You’ve heard the expression, “It passed the test of time.” Standing tall and proud in the historic Mayhew Parsonage on South Water street in Edgartown is a grandfather clock that has adorned the home of 11 ministers of the Federated Church between 1957 and 2023.

The clock stood among the furnishings of the Parsonage, where Sarah Joy Mayhew’s parents lived when she was born in Edgartown. Sarah Joy Mayhew gifted the Parsonage and its contents to the Federated Church when she died in 1957.

The Parsonage may be sold in 2023. Its memories erased. Its walls and floors and classical style surely to be reshaped by the creative vision of a new buyer.

The exterior of the home, including its breathtaking waterfront views, is protected by the tenets of historical societies and regulation. But the interior, where the famous clock sits, will take on a new life. Only the grandfather clock will hold the history of the dwelling.

This clock was built in Boston around the year 1798. This “grandfather” traces back to one of the most famous clockmakers in the city: the brothers Aron and Simon Willard. Auction houses all over the world value a clock by its makers. The clocks built and signed by the brothers Willard establish a value exceeding $20,000 for this very clock. Should it be sold? To whom? Should it leave the Island for a new home, perhaps in a busy urban center, perhaps on a country estate? That question precipitates a lot of discussion.

Joan Perrine of East Chop, whose family bought her house in 1940, is the only clock repair person left on Martha’s Vineyard. When members of the Federated Church appealed to her to examine the clock that had not been running for decades, she threw herself into the project.

“What can we give you?,” I asked.

“I don’t want much,” she replied. “It’s an honor to work on this clock.”

Work on it she did. She contacted a neighbor whose mother had been a deacon of the church and gleaned some of the clock’s history. She contacted the Martha’s Vineyard Museum for more information. Her loving hands extracted a pin that would best be repaired by Chris Lynch, an expert she knew from Bloomingdale, N.J., so she shipped it off to him. She mourned the state of the 18-pound weights and the worn-weary pendulum.

Within a week she tapped another East Chop neighbor, Fred Hancock, who rebuilt the pendulum. She believes that the hands of the clock, delicately aged, are originals.

On a cloudy day in March, Joan called me to meet her at the parsonage with my husband.

“Bring a ladder,” she said. “We’ll have to climb the ladder to reach the top.”

We met her at the parsonage to reassemble the repaired clock. I took some snapshots of Joan, bristling with pride, as we held our breath, hoping to hear that long-lost chime. The clock pealed proudly.

What now? Will an antique lover buy the clock? Will it remain on the Island? Will its future be left to an auctioneer?

Whatever its fate, it will be the only artifact to hold more than 200 years of parsonage history, to have survived a fire, to hold close the lives of multiple ministers and their spouses, and to peal proudly still as the world around it changes.

Elaine M. Pace lives in West Tisbury.