Louisville Clock (photo by Michael Baker)
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+
Share on LinkedIn
Pin to Pinterest
Share on StumbleUpon
+

At the beginning of July, WFPL reported that the Louisville Derby Clock, the whimsical animated time piece by local sculptor Barney Bright, could be headed back downtown after all. After the clock was meticulously restored by a group led by Adam Burckle of Adams Matthews, officials hoped to install the clock at the Louisville Zoo. In 2009, we suggested a site on Fourth Street would be much more desirable than a location at the zoo, so it’s welcome news that the clock will again be in a freely accessible public location.

The latest plans call for the Louisville Clock to be set up in Theater Square on Fourth Street near Broadway. The zoo site fell through as the zoo did not want to pay for maintenance and infrastructure costs. Chris Poynter, spokesperson for Mayor Fischer said the city is currently studying the infrastructure requirements of placing the clock on the downtown site, and how they will be financed. There’s already a garden, several sculptures, and a large fountain in the square that complicate installation. A final decision on the downtown site could be made this month, Poynter said.

“We looked at many downtown sites, but Theater Square seems to have gelled with a lot of people,” Poynter said. “A lot of people are excited including business owners, the Louisville Downtown Management District, and Adam Burckle.”

While business support is likely key to financing the installation and maintenance of the Louisville Clock, it still seems to me that the Guthrie Green, the last vestige of the River City Mall where the clock was originally installed, would be an ideal site for the clock. Two blocks north of Theater Square, the Guthrie Green is currently a wasted public space with quite a bit of potential if anyone would put any thought into its design.

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+
Share on LinkedIn
Pin to Pinterest
Share on StumbleUpon
+
Branden Klayko

4 COMMENTS

  1. I suppose I’m biased, but I’m would love to see the clock in Theatre Square. I’ve worked on 4th St. for nearly a decade now. While growth in the area has been slow and steady, it is impressive nonetheless.

    Unlike neighboring 4th Suburb Live, the southern edge of the “entertainment district” hasn’t exactly received an injection of tax dollars, nor the official promotion as the event hub of downtown Louisville (TGI Friday’s, anyone?)

    Instead, we have seen restaurants come and go (Cafe Kilimanjaro and Highland Coffee, you are sorely missed). Several eateries have weathered the storm of the Great Recession with alacrity, such as Safier, Cunninghams, Yafa Cafe, and BBC. Meanwhile, establishments such as Theatre Square Marketplace are hanging on, but seem to be trying to find their niche in an area that largely shuts down as the work day ends. Newcomers like Sapporo and Sicilian Pizza are continuing to hold their own simply by serving up some of the best food in town. I would bet that 4th St. between Broadway and Chestnut has one of the highest restaurant densities in the city, possibility beating out E. Market and Bardstown Road.

    Still, there is much to be desired in the Theatre Square block. For example, the decrepit park benches were finally removed last year, but only after there was barely a horizontal surface left to sit on. The garden gets a Derby sprucing up by the Downtown Management District, but suffers neglect the rest of the year. The stage in Theatre Square — a delightful venue not only for music, but also plays even a farmer’s market, goes largely unused. And the Club Roxbury (formerly Club Villa Fontana) continues to confound us all with their bizarre schedule (open one day a year: Derby Eve. But whatever you do, don’t park there!).

    In short, I think bringing the Louisville Clock to Theatre Square will help anchor this thriving district, giving businesses further confidence to invest in the area. Perhaps the clock will entice guests from out of town (or those visiting from the suburbs) to hop on a trolley and see Downtown beyond 4th St. Live.

    As far as Guthrie Green, I agree that it has become a wasteland. Perhaps one day, the clock will ultimately finds its way home.

  2. While this location is not as bad as the Zoo I still don’t believe it’s a location where many people will see it in very few visitors will be among those seeing it. It seems like either at the Airport or Riverfront Park or the Belvedere would all be much better locations where citizens and visitors alike would see it!

  3. Interesting comments. I can certainly appreciate the need to put a landmark anchor at Theatre Square. That area has fond memories for me as kid, going to eat Blue Boar and the 4th Street Steakhouse but not before perusing through stacks of moldy books at Readmore.

    On the other hand, the Belvedere would be great spot in terms of accessibility; many travelers would be able to see the clock at the airport but I think it would be sheltered from the majority of Louisville’s population.

    Guthrie Green? It’s ripe for development, but the clock would likely go unnoticed. As of now, I’ll cast my vote for Theatre Square.

  4. You know, after spending a little more time sitting in Theatre Square, I’ve started to change my mind. I still maintain that Theatre Square needs to balance the Belvedere and 4th St. Live!, but perhaps the Clock isn’t the best method of doing this.

    In person, the space itself is rather smaller than it appeared sitting behind my laptop at home. Without a complete redesign of Theatre Square, there simply wouldn’t be a good place to put it. Additionally, the delightfully gaudy and baroque aesthetics of the Clock don’t really mesh with the area.

    Then of course, there’s the question of vandalism. How will such a sculpture survive in Bachelor Party Central? It won’t survive a night without becoming the object of some newfound prank.

    For these same reasons, I can’t see it at the Belvedere, either. It would almost certainly have to be in a private place, like a museum or the atrium of some corporation. However, such a place doesn’t exist. That leaves us will malls (Midcity?) and train stations (wouldn’t it look grand in the lobby of the L&N building?). Perhaps if rail service ever returns to Louisville….

Leave a Reply