Eighty-four years of hanging over the southwest corner of Washington and Meridian streets, exposed to harsh weather and exhaust fumes, has taken a toll on the city’s iconic “Ayres Clock.” Some of the bronze exterior has corroded and fallen off. Inside, water damage has left holes in the steel, and trash and debris has filled the bottom.
The good news is the main structure is solid, but a lot of restoration work will need to be done to ensure the clock is around to stir old memories and create new ones for another 80+ years.
Four years ago, the clock wasn’t keeping time, so Indiana Landmarks led an effort to repair and replace the inner workings of the timepiece. More than 350 people and organizations stepped up to donate $60,000 to the project in just 24 days.
Now that the clock is working, the nonprofit has turned its attention to the bronze and steel case that surrounds the clock.
“Once we removed the four clock faces and timekeeping mechanics, we were able to see everything more closely,” said Brose Partington, a local craftsman and artist who’s working on the restoration. “It’s like any piece of bronze that’s outside in the elements. If it’s not cleaned and maintained regularly, it will start to corrode and deteriorate. We’re going to clean it, rewax it and make it so that water doesn’t get back in.”
The work – which will happen weekdays starting at 9 a.m. – will take approximately six weeks, barring unforeseen delays. It will include updating the electrical system to low-cost LED lights and reinforcing the steel support beams that attach the 10,000-pound clock to the historic building that once housed the L.S. Ayres department store. The project team plans to have the clock repaired in time to welcome the bronze cherub that appears on the corner each Thanksgiving eve to announce the arrival of the holiday season.
“As much as it holds the city’s most beloved clock, that bronze case holds decades of memories,” said Ayres Clock Restoration Project Manager Paul Smith. “We want to ensure it continues to be a city landmark for generations to come.”
The repairs are expected to cost approximately $65,000. People interested in contributing to the project can donate at www.indianalandmarks.org/donate and note “Ayres Clock” in the donation form, or by calling Indiana Landmarks at 800-450-4534.
Ayres Clock Facts
- Named for the L.S. Ayres department store that was on the site from 1905 to 1992
- Located on the corner since 1936
- 8 feet tall
- 10,000 pounds
- Perch for the bronze cherub that appears on the corner each Thanksgiving eve to announce the arrival of the holiday season
- The clock is owned by the City of Indianapolis – Department of Metropolitan Development
- Indiana Landmarks is leading the repair and financing efforts
- The project team includes historic restoration experts, structural engineers, art curators and more.
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Indiana Landmarks revitalizes communities, reconnects us to our heritage, and saves meaningful places. With nine offices located throughout the state, Indiana Landmarks helps people rescue endangered landmarks and restore historic neighborhoods and downtowns. People who join Indiana Landmarks receive its bimonthly magazine, Indiana Preservation. For more information on the not-for-profit organization, call 317-639-4534, 800-450-4534, or visit www.indianalandmarks.org.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Paul Smith, Ayres Clock Restoration Project Manager, 317-432-0482, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen Schmits Thomas, email@example.com, 317-441-2487
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