Help on high in Nahant

November 24, 2016

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
The Nahant Town Hall cupola was restored with Community Preservation Act money.

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

NAHANT — It’s more than a century old but the cupola atop Town Hall is shining again.

Thanks to a combined effort between the Community Preservation Committee, the town and a local construction company, the dome has been restored to reflect its original look.

The town’s Community Preservation Fund will cover more than $70,000 of costs.

The small, copper, dome-shaped cap over the Town Hall building was restored by MJS Construction, Inc., a Beverly-based construction company that specializes in masonry and historic restoration projects.

Michael Selig, owner of MJS, said the splitting, rotten wood was repaired. The team created a header to support the frame and prevent it from tilting from its foundation. The paint was old and chipping away and the copper dome was tarnished and dull.

Struck by the beauty of the copper once it was polished and shined, the town considered keeping it exposed. Ultimately, they decided to stick with plans to restore it what it once was, said Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren. Piece by piece, 3-inch sections of 27.3 karat gold leafing was added.

A copper and brass weathervane that sat atop the cupola had deteriorated beyond repair. MJS is creating a replica.

Round post tops were hand turned and added to the wooden columns.

Two panes in an octagon-shaped window beneath the cupola were repaired and will soon allow light to shine in on the second floor of Town Hall. The boarded-up damaged window allowed debris and water into the building. The ceiling still suffers water damage that needs to be removed.

“It’s rare when you see the combined skills that can do all of that,” said Chelgren. “They bid it and they followed it through. We thank the Community Preservation Committee for stepping forward and funding this.”

The total cost will be unknown until the spring when the weathervane project is completed, said Chelgren.

“Every community, including Nahant, is very proud of its historic buildings,” Chelgren said. “They are more than willing to provide funding to maintain what they have.”

The project also included a revamp for the 100-foot wooden Town Hall flagpole. The oak pole was constructed from a single tree trunk, Chelgren said. Local records date the pole to the 1912 construction of Town Hall.
Originally intended to be a ship’s mast, it was transported to Nahant by sea from a naval yard near Philadelphia. Work on the pole was completed about six months ago, Chelgren said.

About $400,000 from the town’s capital fund pays for historical repairs to the town’s infrastructure. The six windows in the Town Hall Auditorium and the deck were recently repaired.

“The library is one of my next targets,” said Chelgren. “It’s a beautiful building but there is some benign neglect going on there that needs to finally be addressed.”

He hopes to begin with paint and historic wallpaper restoration and repairs to the leaded windows. An ongoing moisture problem also needs to be addressed, he said.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte