SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 18, 2013

Restored cupola returns to Hamilton

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — HAMILTON — The cupola at the Hamilton-Wenham Community House is back.

The historic roof decoration was taken down at the end of May to be restored. It was reinstalled earlier this month.

The cupola was rebuilt with the hope it will last the next 100 years, said Jim Silva, project manager.

“The inside of the structure has been fortified with steel, while the original architecture was maintained,” he said.

Silva said the work was done “carefully and meticulously” off-site by Stanley Roofing of Ipswich. Another company, Structures North of Salem provided engineering drawings for the project.

Inspections showed loose structural ties, twisting of the upper tier, loose and missing trim, and water penetration before the cupola was removed.

“We wanted to maintain the authenticity of the structure,” said Silva, who runs Jim Silva Home Services in town. “What you are looking at gleaming in the sunlight is a new 20-ounce copper handcrafted roof constructed in the exact way the original roof was installed.”

The exposure to New England weather over the years had taken its toll on the cupola on the 92-year-old building. The cupola is original to the building and also serves as part of the building’s ventilation system.

Thad Steward, president of the Community House’s board of directors, said there was strong community support for the project.

“There was never any discussion about removing it. That wouldn’t have been in our game plan,” he said.

Steward said the cupola provides a classic New England view at the busy intersection of Bay Road and Asbury Street.

“The cupola means a lot to our organization as an iconic part of the building,” he said.

He said the exact cost of the project is unknown at this point.

Other projects at the Community House include restoring the building’s original eyebrow windows, copper gutters and roof valleys.

The work to the cupola and other historical features of the building has been estimated at $100,000. About $75,000 came from Community Preservation Act funds.

The Community House of Hamilton and Wenham was built in 1921 when local philanthropists George and Emily Mandell commissioned architect Guy Lowell to design it. In 2011, the Community House was accepted into the National Register of Historic Places.

Growing up in Hamilton, Silva said it was a privilege to be a part of the project.

“We are very fortunate around this part of the country with church steeples and ornamental cupolas like this,” he said.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.