The historic Shell Island tower, a navigational landmark on the waters off the Greenwich coast, is getting a restorative facelift via the Greenwich Land Trust.
They started in mid-August and we anticipate theyll work for a couple of months with the ultimate goal of preserving the integrity of the building, said Ginny Gwynn, executive director of the Greenwich Land Trust.
The 60-foot Shell Island tower is the only tall tower remaining on Greenwichs coastal horizon and it is on the state registry of historic buildings.
The building is about 85 years old and I think over time the water just seeped in there, said Ginny Gwynn, executive director of the Greenwich Land Trust. There have been some holes in the copper roof that have allowed the water to seep down into the stone and crack the mortar.
After years of fundraising, the land trust contracted Valley Restoration, a Connecticut-based steeplejack company to begin the project last month. Currently, the copper roof is being patched, the mortar is being replaced and the original stones are being pinned into place. To avoid the cost of scaffolding, Valley Restoration is using ropes and black and tackles to repair the roof.
The Shell Island Tower was constructed in 1925 as a family museum in memory of Gus Elmer II, the eldest son of the Elmer family who used the island as a summer family compound. The Elmer family sold the island in 1961 to resident Julius Silver, who then donated the island to the Greenwich Land Trust in 1990. Silver wanted the island preserved as a wildlife sanctuary and for educational purposes.
Today, the Shell Island tower is empty and retains only its staircase and railing, though, due to high costs, the group does not intend to make renovations to the interior of the tower.
Our main interest is in protecting the land and maintaining the wildlife habitat, said Gwynn. The tower is an extra piece were proud to have, not as a place people would go into, but more as a landmark and a navigational guide.
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