An iconic structure on the campus of Centralia College was removed on Friday and will be replaced with a taller, improved version.

The historic clock tower was dismantled by crews on Friday, revealing rotten wood and possibly unsafe conditions. 

“It was totally rotten,” Terry Wickert, laborer for Schwiesow Construction, said at the site that once housed the nearly-30-foot structure. “We’re lucky it didn’t fall down on anyone.”

With some prep work the day before, the four-person crew began taking down the structure around 8 a.m. on Friday and finished several hours later. 

According to site superintendent Mike Berg, a new, taller steel structure will begin to rise in mid-August. Berg said the project is scheduled to be completed before fall quarter.

“I hated to see it come down,” Ed Watterson, 79, said. 

Watterson was on the crew that originally built the clock tower in 1991. Along with the clock tower, he has been involved in constructing many of the buildings on the college’s campus, including the library and the Walton Science Center. 

All that remains is the original base of the structure. The new clock tower will be bolted into those piers, Berg said.

The stone monuments were turned into the College Tower Diversity Project in 1997 and pay homage to individuals or groups who made significant contributions to the Northwest. According to Berg, the original clock face will also be refurbished.

The clock tower, eclipsed by taller structures built on the campus after its construction, will be about 10 feet taller, at just over 40 feet.

The wooden beams will be replaced with steel, which Steve Ward, the college’s vice president of finance and administration, said earlier would meet seismic standards. Ward also previously told The Chronicle the more modern design will fit better with the newer buildings on the college’s campus. 

Berg said the new structure will look a lot like the previous one. 

The project is estimated to cost about $400,000 and will be paid out of the state’s capital appropriation. 

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