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Territorial Sundial to be reinstalled Thursday, Jan. 4

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The iconic Territorial Sundial between the Legislative Building and the Joel Pritchard Library will be reinstalled on Thursday, Jan. 4, and a Jan. 30 dedication event will be held to celebrate the sundial's return.

Work impacts

Crews will be on site early in the morning of Thursday, Jan. 4 and will use a crane to reinstall the dial. The central walkway to the sundial will be closed during the reinstallation, and there will be short, periodic traffic impacts along 15th Street.

There also will be sporadic noise associated with use of a forklift.

Dedication

The sundial was originally dedicated in January 1959. The Tuesday, Jan. 30 event will begin at noon and feature speakers from Enterprise Services, the Governor's Office, the State Arts Commission, and the University of Washington.

Following its first overhaul in 59 years, the sundial will be sturdier than ever and maintain its original appearance. The state's project goals for the sundial's renewal included:

  • Retaining the original artwork and aesthetics.
  • Accuracy in reading solar time.
  • A strengthened form to improve durability and deter vandalism.

The sundial was designed by artist and master craftsman John W. Elliott (1883-1971). It has eight panels depicting scenes from Washington's territorial history, from Capt. Vancouver's exploration of Puget Sound to the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Enterprise Services consulted with both the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and the State Arts Commission in deciding to replicate the original artwork. University of Washington astronomy professor and sundial expert Woody Sullivan consulted on the project to ensure the finished sundial's accuracy.

The sundial was removed for work in July 2017. Its gnomon — the part that casts a shadow — and the well-weathered copper face of the dial were each in considerable need of repair.

The 2017-18 repairs will complete the long-needed work on the sundial. The project will be paid for with operating funds designated within the Public and Historic Facilities fund for care of campus memorials and artwork.

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