Lawson Tower Restoration
$120,000
Completed Project  |  2004
Project Description
Lawson Tower
This project funded Phase III in the long-term restoration effort of the bell system and clock machinery in Lawson Tower.

Funding allowed completion of work related to an ongoing contract for the cleaning and refurbishing of the tower bell system, and the return of the bells in restored condition from Cincinnati, Ohio, where the restoration contractor is based, after the conclusion of related restoration work on the bell frame assembly.

Past rehabilitation work completed over the years on this well-known historic building has included the removal of the steel standpipe (water tank) in the Spring of 2002 as well as other component repair tasks. Except for rare special occasions, such as during past Scituate Heritage Days celebrations, the Tower has been closed to the public throughout the restoration process.

This project fully meets the requirements of the Town’s CPC goals for historical resources by recognizing, preserving and enhancing the historical heritage and character for the Town’s current residents and future generations.
History
Lawson Tower is widely recognized as the most beautiful water tower in North America, standing 153 feet tall with 123 steps to the top. The tower was built in 1902 by multi-millionaire Boston businessman Thomas W. Lawson to cloak a 276,000-gallon water tank across from his "Dreamwold" estate, and added to the National Historic Register in 1976 (Structure #76001963). Lawson commissioned the Meneely Bell Company of West Troy, New York, to install ten bells at the top of the tower. These bells range in size from three hundred to three thousand pounds. This chime system was originally designed to be played either from the bell room eighty feet above the ground or on the console of the clavier room.

Lawson, a financier and author, built the tower in 1902 and the Scituate Water Co. stopped using the tank inside in 1988. The tower - listed as both an American Water Landmark in 1974 and to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 - has become a popular touring site, featuring sweeping views of the South Shore, lighthouses and the nearby First Parish church.

“It’s the only structure of its kind in the United States,” said David Ball, president of the Scituate Historical Society. “It’s quite an experience to be up there when the bells are ringing. Most people have never experienced anything like it. And if you look carefully, you can see Provincetown on a very clear day.”

Although the town diligently maintained the tower since it was constructed in 1902, by 1990 the clavier room at ground level was in rather poor condition. That year Joey Jaymes proposed that he do a complete renovation of the room for his Eagle Scout Project. The Scituate Historical Society enthusiastically approved his proposal. Over the next year Joey raised the necessary funds and began his project. He removed multiple layers of varnish from the ceiling, walls and floor and applied new finish. Next he refinished the console and replaced the beam that supports the bell pulleys. Finally he repaired and painted the doors and windows in the room. Joey Jaymes' project made it possible to continue to play the chimes from ground level and for Scituate citizens to hear the same joyous sound peal forth that Thomas Lawson so enjoyed.

A plaque was placed in the clavier room in memory of Joseph A. Jaymes, III.

During the summer and fall of 2000, consultants and architects surveyed the tower and provided the Town with a condition report. They identified problems with shingles and their fasteners, wood trim, cracked bell carriage timbers, severely corroded fasteners, rotted timbers, poorly done foundation repairs, and broken chime controls.
Photos (click on image to enlarge)
Map