Capitol staffers and visitors might soon notice that the sundial between the John L. O’Brien and John A. Cherberg buildings and just south of the Legislative Building has gone missing.
Is the sundial going away for good? No.
The Department of Enterprise Services has announced that the popular sundial is being removed this week for repairs. According to a DES news release:
The sundial will be taken to Seattle for further condition assessment and repair. Work will include:
- Crafting of a new gnomon replicating the original – fabricated of a high-copper content bronze that will be stronger – with improved attachments. The gnomon is the part of the sundial that casts a shadow.
- Repairs to the face of the Sundial, which is bent and cupping.
- Work on the sundial’s base and anchoring system to ensure the sundial face is flat and fully horizontal, for accuracy.
The project is included in the Public and Historic Facilities, fund in the 2017-19 operating budget, which is designated for care of campus memorials and artwork. The restoration work is expected to cost less than $10,000.
The project expected to be complete in late fall.
The sundial’s bronze gnomon was damaged by vandals in the mid-1990s. State workers made temporary repairs. Enterprise Services considered numerous options for long term design and repair of the gnomon. The agency decided to re-install the historic gnomon design because it honors the original artist’s design and is less costly than other options.
For those wondering what the sundial looked like when it was installed just prior to the 1959 dedication of the Washington State Library Building (now called the Joel Pritchard Building), just look above. Thanks to the Washington State Archives for the 1959 photo of the sundial.