The Wichita Rotary Club, the Coleman Co. and Sedgwick County leaders gathered Monday in downtown Wichita to officially welcome the Rotary Time Tower as a new Wichita landmark.
When the ceremonies began, the wind-powered tower slowly began to move as officials spoke about the importance of this addition to downtown Wichita. As the ceremony ended, a bell began to chime, which it will do every 15 minutes. If movement and sound are not enough, the tower also lights up at night.
In the last four months, rubble from the demolished Coleman plant near Second and St. Francis was transformed into a paved parking lot and historical marker that commemorates the past achievements of the two organizations in Wichita. The founder of the Coleman Co., W.C. Coleman, and his son, Sheldon Coleman, devoted 103 years to the Rotary Club of Wichita. Both men also served as the group’s president.
The Wichita Rotary Charitable Fund donated $300,000 for the moving sculpture and urban park as a gift to the community and to celebrate more than 100 years of service in Wichita, said Sheryl Wohlford, president of Rotary Club.
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The cost of the parking lot project, including land acquisition and demolition, was approximately $1.18 million. It will have 462 spaces, including 14 spots for people with disabilities.
While the goal is to refurbish downtown, Sedgwick County officials also wanted to remember downtown’s history by reusing 46,000 bricks and 100 pieces of cast stone from the original Coleman building to reconstruct the arches where pedestrians enter into the parking lot. The arches are replicas of the arches Coleman employees walked through in order to get to work every day, said Scott Henrikson, a Coleman official.
Local artist Todd Whipple of Whipple Studios designed the tower and a wall that depicts Rotary’s history. Law Kingdon Architecture put his designs into action; Conco Construction was the project contractors.
The parking lot will be ideal for people who want to park, eat dinner in Old Town and go to Intrust Bank Arena all in one night, said Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Dave Unruh.
“This is for Sedgwick County citizens and visitors to park, walk and enjoy downtown,” said Unruh, reciting the phrase inscribed on one of the arches during the ceremony.