|The Smith Observatory was built in 1888. It consists of a two story tower 17 feet in diameter and two single story wings. One of the wings houses a library/reception room and the other wing houses a 4" transit telescope and clock.
The dome was built by the Warner & Swasey Co., of Cleveland, Ohio. Its panels are constructed of galvanzied steel. It rides on a series of tandem rollers so that its open shutters can be aligned with the telescope's angle of view. Its interior woodwork features curved paneled walls and built-in storage cabinets. A massive base in the tower's ground floor supports the main telescope.
The building's dormancy lasted from the 1920's through 1974 when restoration began. The building was condemned in 1968. At that time, lenses and related equipment were stored at Hobart College, its windows were boarded and it was essentially abandoned as homes, backyards and vegetation took over its space.
|By 1974 the leaking roofs had caused a great deal of interior damage. Sills needed to be repaired, floor sections replaced and the exterior needed paint. The dome's rollers and rails had rusted to the point where the shutters were seized closed and the dome was in a locked position. Fortunately, the dome was constucted with galvanized panels that protected the telescope and the tower section.
A strong committment to preservation throughout 34 years of private ownership has secured the building's status as a point of interest accessible to the public.
With maintenance, the obervatory, now in its 121st year, should be able to survive its second century.
|After a recently applied coat of paint, the obervatory on a Fall day in 2009.|
|The observatory's condition as it was found in 1974 before preservation efforts began.|