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Why Is The Union Terminal Clock Missing?

Tana Weingartner
The glass face and inner workings of the Union Terminal clock have been removed for repairs. White tiles currently sit in place of the art deco glass.

Driving past Union Terminal, you may have noticed the familiar red and white Art Deco clock face is missing. Don't fret, it's just out for restoration and will be back in place soon."Everything is being thoroughly cleaned and repaired where necessary," says Mike Burson, Union Terminal Corporation owner's representative.

The clock face has been removed for repairs. The white parts you can see at the moment are place holders while the glass is being cleaned. The red glass arms are also being repaired.

"The clock mechanism itself is at Verdin for it to be refurbished," says Burson.

What About The Fountain?

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
The front plaza has been removed so crews could repair and waterproof the roof above the mezzanine and Children's Museum.

Come November, visitors should start seeing the front plaza taking shape. The fountain and surrounding concrete and landscaping were removed because they sit above the mezzanine and Children's Museum.

Crews repaired the roof, added new waterproofing systems and are beginning to cover the space over with gravel and lay new walkways.

Like the flooring in the rotunda, the original fountain was made of terrazzo. Burson says experiments are underway for how best to reconstruct the pools using terrazzo in the same green hue people remember.

Are The Murals Safe?

In a word, yes. The historic Winold Reiss murals have not been disturbed. The yellow rings of the rotunda below the murals have been cleaned and the murals and other artwork are next.

"A lot of the canvas paintings that we have, particularly the loose ones that came out of [the] Losantiville [dining room], those will be shipped to the conservator's studio in New York," Burson says.

The rest of the work will be done in-place. The team has already been in to assess what needs to be done and will begin as soon as they finish the art restoration work underway at Music Hall.

One Last Big Project

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
The red arrow indicates the back wall of the Omnimax Theater which must be replaced. You can see it sits high above the ground and very close to an active rail line, complicating the job for construction crews.

There's plenty of interior and exterior work underway to keep the roughly 275 construction workers busy, but one last major reconstruction is just getting started.

The west wall of the museum center facing the railroad tracks was built in the early 1970s when the train concourse was removed. It now serves as the back wall of the Omnimax Theater. However, Burson says, it wasn't braced properly or built to expand and contract with the building and the weather and is failing.

Burson says the entire wall must be torn down and replaced, not an easy task.

"It's about 40 feet tall, 100 feet wide, and it's up 20 feet off the ground."

If that weren't difficult enough, it also sits just 15 feet from an active CSX rail line, limiting the amount of space crews will have to work. They also can't work when the track is in use.

Turner Construction had planned to finish the west wall reconstruction before winter, but complications with the railway pushed back the time table. That said, project officials say the Union Terminal restoration remains on time and on budget.

Final price tag and sales tax revenue estimates are expected at a January meeting of the Union Terminal Restoration Advisory Committee.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.