Former Gem City Clock to tower once again

Dayton History announced a $500,000 gift on Nov. 27 that will go toward construction of a new tower home for the famed Gem City/Callahan Clock that once towered over motorists on Interstate 75.

The organization said the gift from the Brethen Foundation will help “lift the historic Callahan Clock into the air and return this well-known landmark to Dayton’s skyline.”

“Soon to be known as Brethen Tower, the new structure will serve as a major anchor on the museum’s 65-acre campus,” Dayton History said in a statement. “Plans call for Brethen Tower to elevate the restored architectural timepiece over 100-feet into the air at Carillon Park’s west end, making the illuminated clock face visible once again from Interstate 75.”

The new tower will be “interactive and interpretive,” allowing visitors to climb the tower’s stairs to a viewing platform above Carillon Park, encountering educational panels describing the history of the clock and the surrounding landscape and transportation corridors, the organization added.

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“The people of Dayton have enjoyed looking up at that clock for a century,” Brethen Foundation Trustee David Brethen said in Dayton History’s statement. “Having the opportunity to get it back up in the air where people can see it again, while at the same time helping Carillon Park, a place that we love … well, we are thrilled to help make this happen.”

A plan that has been on Dayton History’s radar since at least 2015, organization leaders hope that the new tower will also serve as the central feature in the first phase of a future “Carillon Park Railway loading station.”

Said Dayton History President & CEO Brady Kress: “As a private non-profit museum, everything we do here is donor-driven. The Brethen Foundation stepped forward to first help build our Carousel of Dayton Innovation, now their philanthropy is propelling this major project dreamed about since adopting the clock in 2006. We are so thankful and thrilled with the family’s generous support.”

Roll & Associates, Inc., with Beavercreek-based engineering firm Woolpert, are finalizing architectural and structural engineering designs, as Dayton History seeks more funding and construction proposals for the overall project.

The former clock dates back to the late 1800s, first located on the Callahan and Gem City Savings building in downtown Dayton before being moved to a Reynolds and Reynolds building in West Dayton in the 1970s. Today, the clock can be found in Carillon Park.

Dayton History/Carillon Park have had the former clock since 2006.

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