About Our Club

The Rotary Foundation Board of 1993-94 decided it wanted to fund a major project that would be of lasting value to the City of Lansing - a project that would highlight downtown development along the Grand River. "We sought something tangible, something you could visit, see and enjoy," explained Rotarian Barbara H. Andersen who, with Wayne Sternberg, co-chaired the special committee which coordinated the effort. A call was put out for ideas. Eventually it was decided to pursue a suggestion by Lansing Board of Water and Light employee Joette Woodard-Yauk to build a clock and tower.

Lansing's tower clock, however, wasn't going to be just any tower clock. It would have to be one that, as Co-chairman Anderson had suggested, would be visited, seen and enjoyed, and also cherished as a proud memorial to Michigan's capital city. It was to be given to the city in honor of its 150th birthday but would be designed to stand for posterity.

The committee contacted the Verdin Company of Cincinnati, one of the world's most respected builders of tower clocks, requesting a proposal. Verdin submitted an architectural plan by acclaimed industrial designer David Day. The art deco tower clock concept, complementing the nearby Ottawa Street Power Station, would feature a rare 1927 Seth Thomas clock mechanism, a 49-bell electronic carillon and five tuned bronze steam whistles.

Donations were solicited from Lansing Rotarians, the Christman Company was chosen as contractor and Wentworth Park was selected as the site for the new Rotary tower clock. Wentworth Park was a perfect choice. Standing between the river and the Radisson Hotel, it was both one of Lansing's most historic areas and an important part of Rotary Club history. Between 1851 and 1901 it was the site of the home of William Pinckney, one of Lansing's earliest lawyers and twice an Ingham County probate judge. Later, it became home to the 162-room Hotel Kerns, the official meeting place of Lansing Rotary in its early days. In 1934, the hotel burned, killing 34 people and injuring at least 37 more. The fire is considered by many to be Lansing's most tragic disaster.

The $150,000 tower clock, paid for entirely by donations from Rotary Club members, was officially given to the city on September 19, 1997, while Lansing was celebrating its sesquicentennial. Mayor David Hollister joined Rotarian Joe Pandy in a cherry picker and they rode into the sky to untie a large card fastened near the top of the 28-foot tower. The card, reading "A Gift for All Time," was signed by the members of the Rotary Club of Lansing.