On Wednesday, after more than a year of planning and nearly six months of scaffolding, restoration and construction of the tower, a new steel spire was hoisted by crane and installed atop the historic Stiefel Theatre in downtown Salina as hundreds of people watched.

They were watching modern history be created as the spire, built by Grain Belt Supply of Salina as an exact replica of the original tower, was installed nearly 80 feet above the corner of S. Santa Fe and Walnut Street. Once lighting on the tower is operational, the Stiefel restoration will be another successful step in Salina’s downtown revitalization.

“We want this spire to be a beacon of hope for the city,” said Jane Gates, executive director of the Stiefel Theatre.

The Stiefel Theatre opened in 1931 as the Fox-Watson Theatre, named after its founder W.W. Watson and the Fox Theatre Co., which purchased it just before its completion. In 1954, lightning struck the upper tiers of the tower and it had to be removed. The theater continued to operate as a movie theater until it closed in 1989.

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