Historic Indy department store clock needs $20,000 to tick again

INDIANAPOLIS — The 80-year-old bronze clock at Washington and Meridian streets outside the former L.S. Ayres department store needs the community to donate $20,000 by Nov. 7 if it's going to start ticking again anytime soon.

The people at Indiana Landmarks aren't sure how long this clock hasn't been working, but two concerned residents came to the historic preservation nonprofit less than a month ago to see what needed to happen to fix it.

"It's just kind of embarrassing that it doesn't show the correct time of day on a clock so prominent," Indiana Landmarks Executive Vice President Tina Connor said. "It just looks neglectful, don't you think? It looks like we don't care. And we do, and the city does, too."

Indiana Landmarks reached out to a few repair companies before landing on Smith's Bell and Clock Co. to fix the clock, which will need new movements, a controller, balanced hands and one face replacement.

The clock is bigger than you probably think. Mounted 29 feet above ground, the clock is 10,000 pounds and 8 feet tall. "It's big enough for someone to stand up inside," Connor said.

"We want to make sure it never gets into this shape again," Connor said.

The Nov. 7 deadline is to allow enough time for repairs before the bronze cherub is placed on the clock the night before Thanksgiving, a tradition since 1947.

The donation site went up at about 9 a.m. Monday morning, and by 2 p.m. 23 donations for a total of $800 had been made.

Indianapolis owns the building, which was home to L.S. Ayres until 1992. Now, department store Carson Pirie Scott is in part of the space.

The Ayres clock is an important landmark for the city, and it's one that should be preserved for years to come, Connor said.

"We don't really have a town clock like a lot of cities have," she said. "The intersection of Washington and Meridian is an important one in the city. It’s zero — it's the one in which all our addresses are based on."

You can donate by going to the Indiana Landmarks website, calling (317) 639-4534 or mailing a check to Indiana Landmarks, 1201 Central Ave., Indianapolis, IN, 46202.

Follow Amy Bartner on Twitter: @amybartner


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