Friends University Clock Tower Renovation Nearing Completion

By: Jared Cerullo Email
By: Jared Cerullo Email

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A once beautiful part of the Wichita skyline is returning. Renovations are nearly complete at Davis Hall on the campus of Friends University in Wichita. That means the beautiful Christmas lights on the clock tower are back on.

"We've been doing our level best to take care of it both inside and out," said Paul Winchester, the Director of Physical Plant.

Over the last year, scaffolding has surrounded Davis Hall. A hail storm in 2009 damaged the iconic roof and clock tower, but this week, the scaffolding came down from around the clock tower.

"The hail basically messed up all the ornamental metal and all of the slate on the roof and it beat up all of the Christmas lights," said Winchester.

The damage totaled nearly $2.5-million. Last year, for the first time in many years, there were no Christmas lights on Davis Hall.

"It's been here visible from all around town. You can see it from the west and see it from the east," said Winchester. "She's very important to the neighborhood and very important to Friends University."

Davis Hall was built outside of Wichita in 1888 when there was virtually nothing else on the landscape west of the Arkansas River. Before renovation work began, workers took pictures of all the lights so they could put them back exactly the way they were.

"It took a very large effort from an awful lot of people," Winchester explained. "The roofers, the electricians... everybody working together to do our level best to make sure those lights were back on before Christmas."

Vandals also damaged the gears and two of the clock faces during the renovation, but Winchester says those will also be fixed and the clocks will be in full operation within a few months.

"It's going to look good," Winchester said with a smile on his face. "It's back together and hopefully without another hail storm, it's going to last a very long time."

The entire renovation of the building is expected to be complete by March, 2011.

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