What’s the going rate for a good clocktower these days? A cool $1.4 million ought to do the trick.
Area businessman and Ohio State donor Tom W. Davis recently donated that amount to the university for a clock tower to be put up in his name in the new “town square” area of the North Campus redevelopment, just south of the North Recreation Center.
The tower joins a list of campus sites named after Davis, including the Tom W. Davis Climbing Center at the Adventure Recreation Center and the Tom W. Davis Special Events Gym at the RPAC. He also donates money for scholarships.
Davis said that while the Special Events Gym he funded was the biggest in size at 25,000 square feet, the funding for the clock tower is the biggest investment that he’s ever given to OSU at one time.
The clock tower is a departure from Davis’ typical giving style.
“I would have to say that brick and mortar is probably nothing that I normally would do,” he said. “More so for the development of the mind or body is more my style of giving.”
Davis said the Student Life expressed to him that they would like to put up a clock tower but did not have the financial ability to do so.
“But I stepped up to the plate, I took care of it,” Davis said.
He said at the time they were discussing the project, there were not any other projects in the running that he chose between.
“We always wanted to have an iconic structure in the North District,” said Dave Isaacs, spokesman for the Office of Student Life.
Isaacs said the gift completes the vision the university had for the revamping of the North Campus residence halls, set to open this fall.
“From the very beginning of the process, we saw the North District not just as a collection of buildings, but the opportunity to create a neighborhood,” he said, “We have been conscious about green spaces and features that make it a neighborhood.”
The tower will also have a 20-by-40 foot video screen on one side.
Davis said he sees the screen as potentially the most important aspect of the clock tower. He said he can see OSU sporting events, current affairs and evening movies being broadcasted on the screen in the future.
The new addition will also carry some history: Four cartouches — carved stone tablets, in this case bearing seals of Ohio, OSU, the Northwest Territory and the United States — will be placed around the base of the tower, Isaacs said.
The cartouches were originally part of Thompson Library, but were removed during the 2009 renovation and put into storage, Isaacs said.
Davis has no alumni connection to OSU having never attended college, but said he believes “if you live in Columbus, you’re a booster of Ohio State.”
“It gives me great pleasure to be able to pay it forward to the students of Ohio State,” he said.
He sees the clock tower being a part of campus for many years to come.
“I think it’s going to be a major focal point of the northeast corner of campus,” Davis said. “It will be something that a lot of people will be able to see and use in one way or another, and it will provide a service to students.”
Construction is set to start next spring, after classes let out, Isaacs said, with plans to complete construction by August 2017.