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Repair work shows extent of damage to Indy's historic Ayres clock

Posted at 9:36 PM, Aug 25, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS — Repair work underway on the iconic Ayres Clock in downtown Indianapolis has revealed the scope of the wear and tear the city landmark has endured.

Officials with Indiana Landmarks revealed some of the damage that has been done after 84 years hanging over the southwest corner of Washington and Meridian streets. Exposed to harsh weather and exhaust fumes, some of the bronze exterior has corroded and fallen off. On the inside, water damage has left holes in the steel while trash and debris has filled the bottom.

"Once we removed the four clock faces and timekeeping mechanics, we were able to see everything more closely," Brose Partington, a local craftsman and artist who is part of the restoration, said. "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."

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The work will happen weekdays starting at 9 a.m. and will take approximately six weeks to complete, barring unforeseen delays. Among the upgrades will be 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 houses the L.S. Ayres department store.

Repairs are expected to be done in time to welcome the bronze cherub that appears on the corner each Thanksgiving eve to announce the arrival of the holiday season.

It's not the first repair to be made to the city icon.

Four years ago, the clock wasn't keeping time. Indiana Landmarks led an effort to repair and replace the inner workings of the timepiece. More than 350 people and organizations donated $60,000 to the project in just 24 days.

"As much as it holds the city's most beloved clock, that bronze case holds decades of memories," Paul Smith, project manager for the Ayres Clock Restoration Project, said. "We want to ensure it continues to be a city landmark for generations to come."

Repairs are expected to cost approximately $65,000. Anyone interested in donating to the project can fill out the form and note "Ayres clock" in the donation form or by calling Indiana Landmarks at 800-450-4534.