Photo Gallery | Veterans War Memorial renovation on Mount Greylock begins
ADAMS — Hikers reaching the peak of Mount Greylock on Wednesday had the expected breathtaking views under blue skies in all directions — and a more unusual sight surrounding the summit's iconic granite spire.
The 84-year-old Veterans War Memorial Tower atop the state's highest peak was being encased in scaffolding as the arrival of spring weather has allowed restoration work to resume.
The $2.6 million project began in August and ceased for the winter three months later. Now workers from Allegrone Construction of Pittsfield are now back on the job with the goal of finishing their work in November, according to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The tower will be closed to the public until next spring, but the facelift may be as much of a draw as climbing the interior staircase of the 93-foot structure, according to DCR Western Regional Director Michael Case.
"It might be quite a sight to see and watch the workers," he said.
While the road to the summit will not reopen until this weekend, Case, who accompanied an Eagle photographer to the top, was impressed the barrier didn't keep visitors away.
"It's been amazing to see people park [at the base] and walk up the mountain," he said.
The tower has been deteriorating over the years as moisture seeps into the structure, getting trapped in the granite and eating away at the sealant, mortar and stone. As part of the restoration, the sealant and mortar will be removed and a double sealant will be applied to better prevent water from being trapped in the granite.
"The masonry design of that type was a poor choice for that climate," said Jeffrey Harris, DCR's project manager for the tower project, in a phone interview with The Eagle. "It's tough to keep water out of a structure of that type."
The restoration also will include a new railing for the staircase and new concrete for the terrace, which is being elevated. Work will only be conducted during the week to avoid impeding the peak usage on the weekends. A rededication of the tower is likely in 2017, DCR officials said.
This weekend's season reopening will feature a special one-hour tour of the summit from 1 to 2 p.m. Sunday.
DCR staff will discuss the history of tower, completed in 1932 as the commonwealth's tribute to veterans of all wars. The program will include the reading of excerpts from the original 1933 dedication. Bascom Lodge will reopen May 28.
This weekend's summit opening and Sunday tour are part the state parks' observance of National Preservation Month in May, as historic places around the country celebrate the nation's devotion to protecting the natural and manmade beauty that has shaped America.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which included the creation of the National Register of Historic Places.
Mount Greylock Reservation was the state's first wilderness park created in the 1890s, with the Veterans War Memorial Tower erected in 1931-32. The structure underwent major reconstruction in the mid-70s and significant repairs in the late 1990s.
"The commonwealth's state parks system is one of the oldest in the nation and preservation has been at the heart of the [DCR's] mission from the beginning," DCR Commissioner Leo Roy said in written remarks. "Preservation Month is a great time to explore parks in a new way, visiting the historic buildings, sites and landscapes that reflect our shared heritage."
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.