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WoodmenLife Changing the Letters at the Top

Cleaning Underway 500 Feet Up

Have you ever used a power washer 28 stories up? We haven’t either. But we’re glad the professionals hanging off of the WoodmenLife Tower know what they’re doing. A cleaning team with a local firm has made a lot of progress removing the shadowing left behind the letters on both the north and east elevations. About half of the south elevation has been washed as of Monday afternoon as well.

The Woodmen letters were up for 51 years, so discoloration was expected. It could take multiple passes to remove all shadowing, but the early work has been promising. All the coloring needs to be removed, since the new letters won’t be the same size or shape as the previous ones.

The past letters were approximately 12 by 11 feet, but the new ones are 12.5 feet high and vary in width, mostly between 7 and 8 feet.

After the first pass is done on all four sides, project leaders will determine if more work with a different cleaning solution is necessary. Crews will then patch the stone facade before installing brackets to hold the new letters. Work may wrap up in August, depending how much crews are delayed by high wind and other weather conditions.

July 6 Update

The last of the Woodmen letters are now off WoodmenLife Tower, and Phase 2 — cleaning — is set to begin.

Crews with Omaha Neon Sign Co. finished removing the last of the 28 letters on Monday, so all that remains on the stone facade are shadowy outlines of the letters.

We’ve captured the removal work with the help of time-lapse photography and aerial drone footage. Check out the bird’s eye views.

We also have the view from First National Bank Tower just a block or so away.

Workers had to slice and dice each letter into about six pieces so the scraps could be removed from the tower and hauled away.

To prepare for the new letters, crews with a different vendor will bring in power washers to clean the stone. They’ll use water first, and if that isn’t effective, add chemicals to remove the outlines and other markings left after 51 years atop the Omaha skyline. The timeline will depend on how challenging the clean up will be.

Keep checking the WoodmenLife Media Center for updates and great video of the progress.

June 29 Update

Our initiative to change the Tower letters to “WoodmenLife” is turning heads – or so we’ve heard and seen on social media. We’re nearly two weeks in, and only 10 of the original 28 letters are left. As of Tuesday morning, we’re down to:

  • WOO on the west
  • N on the north
  • WOD on the south
  • MEN on the east

The contractor, Omaha Neon, has taken down about three letters per day. Weather has impacted the pace of the project, since wind and the presence of lightning can limit their work 500 feet up. Based on what we know now, we’re on track to have all the letters gone by next week.

Work to clean and patch the precast stone behind the letters will begin once the letters have been removed.

Check back for more progress updates, and in the meantime, look at the photo gallery of the work.

June 22 Update

You already knew we’re excited about changing the letters at the top of WoodmenLife Tower, but for a brief while the tower expressed it better than we could. That’s right, the west side read “WOO.”

That means we’re getting closer to the next step in this project. After all the letters on the west side are down, Omaha Neon workers will spend about a week cleaning and patching the marble, since the 51-year-old letters have left their mark.

Keep an eye on the skyline when you visit downtown, and we’ll update you here as the project advances.

June 18 Update

Beginning Wednesday, June 17, about 500 feet up, workers were busy removing the first letter from the top of the Tower. The initiative to update the lettering at the top of the Tower from ‘Woodmen’ to ‘WoodmenLife’ will take about 10 weeks.

The first letter to go was ‘D’ on the Tower’s west side. Over the next 3 months, employees from Omaha Neon will take down the rest of the 27 letters that have been on the Tower for 51 years. The project has been years in the making and will forever change the Omaha skyline.

Please check back here often to follow the progress. In the coming weeks, you can access time lapse video of the work and drone footage of each part of the process. Workers will remove existing lettering in pieces, clean and patch the marble, install new brackets, electrical wiring and finally the new letters.