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After months away, this Capitol Campus fixture is coming back

Seattle-based contractor Fabrication Specialties used the original sundial as a pattern to mold and re-cast the artwork in bronze.
Seattle-based contractor Fabrication Specialties used the original sundial as a pattern to mold and re-cast the artwork in bronze. Fabrication Specialties

The sundial on the Capitol Campus is expected to be reinstalled next month after undergoing its first major restoration since it was dedicated in 1959.

The Territorial Sundial located between the Legislative Building and the Joel Pritchard Library was removed in July. According to the Department of Enterprise Services, Seattle-based contractor Fabrication Specialties used the original sundial as a pattern to mold and re-cast the artwork in bronze. The timepiece features eight panels depicting scenes from Washington’s territorial history, from Captain Vancouver’s exploration of Puget Sound to the arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad.

The original copper face was 1.2 millimeters thick, about the thickness of a copper penny. The new face will be 9.5 millimeters, about as thick as four half-dollars.

The copper face also was wrinkled, which affected the accuracy of the sundial.

Workers also designed a sturdier gnomon — the part that casts a shadow — since the original was bent soon after installation. The restoration is expected to be completed early next month, then a rededication event will be planned.

Workers consulted the state’s Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and the state Arts Commission to accurately replicate the original artwork; Woody Sullivan, a University of Washington astronomy professor and sundial expert, helped ensure the sundial’s accuracy.

The original sundial was designed by John W. Elliott, who also designed the gilded eagle on the front of the Olympia Armory.

Abby Spegman: 360-704-6869, @AbbySpegman

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