The Narragansett Historic Towers are coming to the end of an 18-year renovation process, entering the final phase of the project this past week, which includes the cleaning and pointing of the stone and the painting of the trim. All work to date has been completed by Abcore Restoration, Inc., with the collaboration of the Town of Narragansett Engineering Department and the Narragansett Historic District Commission. The final phase of work is being funded by a $125,000 Champlin Foundation grant and is expected to be completed by mid-August.
“It’s bitter sweet,” said Abcore Restoration president and HDC chair Keith Lescarbeau when asked how he felt now that the long project was ending. “It’s great to see it completed, but it’s also the end of a labor of love.”
Throughout those 18 years, Abcore worked to make the Towers appear as they do today, including the renovation the cupola, which had been missing since a fire struck the Towers in 1965. The base for the fountain and onion-shaped dome was constructed at Abcore and then hoisted into position. Further, the balcony which sits on the eastward tower and serves as a fantastic vantage point of Narragansett’s beach and sea wall was also constructed during this time period. Lescarbeau described the balcony and its fastening to the tower.
“The main joists are injected into the third level floor framing,” he explained. “The main 24 ft. 10” x 14” beam is supported by angle gussets which are mechanically fastened to the building. The decking and all of the baluster is constructed with 2” thick genuine mahogany.”
Other renovations included – the installation of 104 new Kolbe windows which, according to Lescarbeau, are the “most traditional-looking window on the market,” due to their concealment of modern construction methods and technology with wood veneer tracks, the construction of the Chamber of Commerce inside the Towers, renovations to the third floor, the replacement of all cedar trim, the installation of coated copper gutters and the re-shingling of the roof, which used a pressure-treated red cedar wood, a product expected to last for 50 years.
Lescarbeau described some of the challenges of working on the renovations to such a structure while attempting to balance the responsibilities of renovation with those of upholding the historic nature of the structure.
“It’s a lot to do with the material selection,” he said. “Funding is hard to come by, and logistics for over-the-road work can be difficult. Conditions are also harsh 75 feet from the ocean.Both workmanship and material must be the best humanly possible to avoid repeating the work as long as possible; therefore, windows: mahogany with pressure treated framing. trim: clear vertical grain cedar all coated three times before installation. Gutters: coated copper. Fasteners: all stainless steel. Flashings: copper. Roofing: 5/8” taper sawn “Certi-grade” (100 percent edge grain red cedar) and “Certi-last” (pressure treated). The Cedar Shake & Shingle Bureau estimate a 50-year life.”
Lescarbeau also had high praises for the town’s collaboration on the project.
“I cannot say enough about the character and heartfelt dedication to the Town by Dave Ousterhout, Towers Committee Chair and Jeff Ceasrine, Town Engineer,” he said. “They both have been a resource of information and collaboration throughout the project. They have dedicated their working lives to the betterment of the Town of Narragansett. It has been a pleasure and honor to serve the Town with them.”
The project is expected to be completed by mid-August.
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