SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

July 4, 2013

Hamilton cupola being restored

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — HAMILTON — The roof of the Hamilton-Wenham Community House is looking a little bare.

That’s because the historic cupola on the 92-year-old building has been removed for restoration. The work to the cupola and other historical features of the building will cost an estimated $100,000.

“It is an important architectural feature of any historical building,” said Melissa Elmer, executive director of the Community House. “It is something original to the building that we would like to preserve.”

Elmer said exposure to New England weather through the years has taken its toll on the cupola, with inspections showing loose structural ties, twisting of the upper tier, loose and missing trim, and water penetration.

The cupola was removed at the end of May and is being restored off-site by Stanley Roofing of Ipswich.

“When we took the cupola down, its condition was worse than we thought,” Elmer said.

Stanley Roofing is working with a structural engineer to develop a plan to restore the cupola, she said, and no timeline has been set yet for its return.

Elmer said they are waiting to hear back about the total cost for the cupola before moving forward with plans to restore the building’s original eyebrow windows, copper gutters and roof valleys.

About $75,000 was set aside for the project from Community Preservation Act funds. It would have been difficult for the nonprofit, which has an annual budget of about $350,000, to restore the cupola without the funds, Elmer said.

“We are a hub for programs and activities in the communities,” she said, noting that about 1,000 people take part in its programs each week.

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.

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.