Thursday, Jul 09, 2020

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Bobcat weathervanes

Facilities Management and Safety staff (L-R): Denton Guthrie, Anthony Pennington, Roger Milstead and Emmett Sanders showed their artistic skills during the two projects

Photo courtesy of: Facilities Management and Safety

Bobcat weathervanes

Roger Milstead and Emmett Sanders install the new bobcat atop Wray House in October

Photo courtesy of: Facilities Management and Safety

Bobcat weathervanes

The bobcat atop the newly renovated Claire Ping Cottage cupola

Photo courtesy of: Facilities Management and Safety

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Facilities Management and Safety staff showcases talents to create new bobcat weathervanes

Wray House and Claire Ping Cottage host new look bobcats

There are two new bobcats overlooking the Athens Campus.

Although they don’t pay tuition or work on campus, they do serve a purpose. They let you know which way the wind is blowing.

Shortly before Homecoming weekend, Facilities Management and Safety staff installed two new bobcat weathervanes on campus.

The largest of the black metal bobcats was installed atop Wray House on South Green on Oct. 3. One day later, a smaller bobcat was mounted atop Claire Ping Cottage, which sits behind the Konneker Alumni Center on University Terrace.

The largest bobcat is about 6 feet long and 3 feet tall, while the smaller one is approximately 3 feet long and 18 inches tall.


The Wray House bobcat replaces the original bobcat that was blown down during a derecho that swept through Athens on June 29, 2012. The devastating windstorm brought 60-plus mile per hour winds and damaged thousands of trees and powerlines in the area.

According to Facilities Management and Safety, the original feline, which most people thought was a weathervane, was actually a static bobcat that didn’t spin. Facilities Management and Safety staff believe that the fact that it didn’t move may have contributed to it being blown over when the strong winds broke the metal rod attached to it.

During a Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) meeting the day of the derecho, University leadership made the decision to not immediately reinstall the popular South Green marker.

Executive Director of Housing and Residence Life Pete Trentacoste said the decision was made because of the significant time and money it would take to repair it and the fact that Wray House at the time was among the residence halls scheduled to be razed in the near future.

Trentacoste said he vividly remembers the day of the derecho because that Saturday was the day he was moving with his family to Athens in preparation for his first day of work on the following Monday.

"I remember thinking this weather looks bad," Trentacoste said. “After the storm finished that day, I went to my first CIRT meeting two days before I officially started my job.”


Trentacoste said the idea to replace the bobcat on Wray House this fall was developed after his office and several others across campus continually fielded questions about the timing of the return of the bobcat. He said that while most of the inquiries came from University staff members, they were also hearing from alumni and community members who noticed the missing bobcat.

That is when Housing and Residence Life staff contacted Facilities Management and Safety to inquire about how they could work together to get a new bobcat on top of Wray House.


Around the same time, Ohio University carpenters Denton Guthrie and Anthony Pennington had been asked to restore the Ping Cottage cupola, which involved replacing the rotted wooden pieces on the top and bottom of the structure and giving it a fresh coat of paint. Sheet metal workers Roger Milstead and Emmett Sanders were asked to replace the damaged copper roof on top of the cupola because it was leaking.

Jeff McGlamery, an assistant director of building trades who supervises the carpentry and sheet metal shops, said the idea was to keep the cupola in as original condition as possible, so that’s why he didn’t ask his men to build a new one.

"We wanted to make the Ping Cottage cupola look nice, while also increasing the campus interest in the Wray House bobcat replacement project," McGlamery said.

After some brainstorming sessions with his staff, he said the decision was made to create a small bobcat to sit atop Ping Cottage with the hopes of making a larger one for Wray House if the smaller one was well received.

McGlamery said he had been hearing about the missing bobcat on Wray House since he moved to Athens about 18 months ago.

Milstead was assigned the task of making the first metal bobcat weathervane for Ping Cottage. He did most of the metal fabricating with help from Sanders.

To create the design, McGlamery said he placed a picture of a bobcat on an overhead projector and traced it before asking Milstead to replicate it in metal. Milstead also made the bearings for the new bobcats so that they could spin.

Milstead said the copper balls on the weathervane are the kind used in water tanks because they couldn't find any that fit the project on the open market. He also handmade the weathervane directionals in his shop.

The renovated cupola was installed back on top of Ping Cottage without the new bobcat weathervane on Sept. 7, 2017.

McGlamery said that a future project for his staff is the replacement of the roof on the Ping Cottage dormer this spring. He said after a shiny, new copper roof is installed to replace the current black metal one, it will match the newly renovated cupola roof.


After he completed the smaller bobcat, Milstead used the same process to create the larger one for Wray House. Columbus Powder Coating was hired to provide both of the bobcats with a black coating.

Before they installed the larger bobcat atop Wray House using a 160-foot lift that was already on campus for another job, Milstead and Sanders re-painted the clock hands on top of the building and members of the Electric Shop replaced the old fluorescent lights in the Wray House clock with new, bright LED lights.

McGlamery said the cupola looks "phenomenal at night" sporting the new lighting, distinctive clock hands and the new and improved bobcat weathervane.

Trentacoste said now that the new Wray House bobcat is back in place, excitement is in the air. He said his department has made thank you cards with a picture of the new bobcat to give out to their donors and alumni.

“We had a student fly a drone up there to take great pictures of the new bobcat,” Trentacoste said. “When I posted a message about the new bobcat weathervane being up, my social media numbers went way up. Now I know that when you see the view of the campus from Route 33, it just wouldn’t look the same without the weathervane on top of Wray. It adds character to the building and campus.”


Steve Wood, Ohio University associate vice president of facilities management and safety, commended the sheet metal workers, carpenters and electricians for their work on the two projects.

"We have a great team with great skills," he said. “This was a great opportunity to showcase some of the artisan skillsets of our guys.”

McGlamery said his staff has already received several compliments on the high flying bobcats.

“Both of these projects allowed these guys to showcase their talents as true craftsmen,” McGlamery said. “It was a true team effort.”  

McGlamery said the work also showcases how his area can benefit the whole community.

“They are artists and projects like this can be enjoyed by everyone,” he said. “It's a way for us to give back to the campus and community.”