Campaign to Restore Ayres Clock Before Cherub Arrives

Effort to Raise $20,000 by November 7

What’s the saying? Even a stopped clock is right twice a day? Well the Ayres clock at the southwest corner of Washington and Meridian is right eight times a day, since it has four faces and none displays the correct time.

Two downtown Indianapolis residents asked themselves “why can’t we get the Ayres clock working again?” Old Northsider Paul Smith, president of Southeast Neighborhood Development, and Mary Kummings, an Indiana Landmarks volunteer who lives in Lockerbie, posed the question that many who pass the clock every day had probably wondered about.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve neglected a prominent landmark that was so important in lives of people in the city for decades. For generations, people met under the clock to go shopping, or to lunch or dinner,” Smith notes.

Vonnegut and Bohn designed the 1905 L. S. Ayres department store, and in 1936 Arthur Bohn designed the 10,000-pound bronze clock. Mounted on the building almost 29 feet above the sidewalk, the eight-foot tall clock gave passersby the time from all four directions—when it worked. Now it’s just plain confusing.

Smith contacted clock experts and Indiana Landmarks, which signed on to lead the fundraising campaign in the face of a tight schedule. “In the beginning, the clock was a promotional tool for the department store, but across the decades it has assumed a much broader significance. And when the cherub comes to perch on the clock on Thanksgiving eve—an annual holiday tradition since 1947—we want to make sure he knows when to arrive,” says Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks.

He estimates the clock repair by Smith’s Bell and Clock Company (no relation to Paul Smith) will cost $10,000, and that it will need annual maintenance to remain accurate. “By November 7, we want to raise $20,000 to fix the clock and create the maintenance fund,” Davis notes. The clock will get new movements, a controller, properly balanced hands, and a replacement for one badly faded face.

Many still call it the Ayres clock, even though the department store has been gone since 1992. The city owns the building, which is incorporated in Circle Centre mall. Carson Pirie Scott occupies a portion of the old Ayres building.

Jeff Bennett, Indianapolis Deputy Mayor of Community Development, applauds the citizen campaign to repair the landmark clock. “The city is grateful for the partnership with Indiana Landmarks. We appreciate the thorough analysis of the needs and the long-term approach to maintenance. We’ll expedite the permits the workmen will need in order to get repair work underway as quickly as possible,” Bennett says.

Indiana Landmarks welcomes contributions to the Ayres clock restoration campaign. “Make a contribution if you enjoyed family shopping traditions at Ayres, or if you want to honor the memory of someone who loved or worked in the store, or if you just want to see such a prominent civic landmark display the right time of day,” urges Marsh Davis.

The campaign goal is that by November 23 when everyone looks for the cherub, all four faces of the clock will display the correct time.

You can make a contribution online at, or call 317-639-4534, or mail a check to Indiana Landmarks, 1201 Central Avenue, Indianapolis, IN, 46202.


Media contacts: Tina Connor, Executive Vice President, Indiana Landmarks, 317-639-4534 (office); 317-946-3127 (cell), Paul F. Smith, President, Southeast Neighborhood Development, 317-634-5079 ext. 104,


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