Passersby and students at Friends University may have recently noticed a familiar sound emanating from atop the Davis Administration Building – a sound we haven’t heard for over two years.
The building’s clock tower is again keeping time and chiming its dulcet tones high above campus, warning students that class will start soon, signaling lunch and serenading faculty and staff on their way out the door at the end of a long day.
Though the aging clock had been starting to fail several years ago, it was finally silenced in July 2009 when it was badly damaged in a hailstorm.
“For several years prior to the hailstorm, we had issues trying to keep the clock running and keep it on time. It was more of a time and know-how issue for us at that point,” said Paul Winchester, director of Physical Plant for the University. “But in 2010, vandals tore off the clock hands on the south and west faces of the tower. They also damaged the mechanism inside the tower for those two sides.”
The clock remained shut down while the building’s roof was being repaired. New hands had to be made, and the mechanisms had to be repaired for the 80-year-old clock, which was a gift from the class of 1931.
“Local vendors did an excellent job of that repair work,” Winchester said.
When the clock was repaired, new parts were added, but much of the clock’s original integrity was preserved – both in the mechanics and the outward façade.
“There was quite a bit of interest in changing from the old mechanism to a new, electric version. One was found, and arrangements made for the changeover. The old clockworks rely on 80-year-old brass parts and a wooden pendulum to keep time,” Winchester said. “Many variables, such as temperature and humidity effect the clock and its speed. It required close management to keep it working and on time. After Ray Winchester retired, we lost the clock mechanic that kept it running for years.”
Wichitans can hear the clock chime twice each hour – once at the hour, and once at half past the hour. One additional enhancement made to the clock allows it to adjust to time changes.
“It’s self-correcting and will adapt to daylight savings time,” Winchester said.
The repairs and electrical wiring were funded by a generous gift from Friends University’s Student Government Association, totaling $8,345.50.
For more information about the clock tower, contact the Communications Office at 316-295-5809.