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Massachusetts Marks Restoration Of War Memorial Tower

The latest renovation of the Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower at the summit of Mount Greylock is underway and as the finished product will bring new features to the monument.Members of the Williamstown American Legion Color Guard raised the U.S. and state flags during a ceremony marking the start of reconstruction at the Massachusetts Veterans War Memorial Tower Thursday. The $2.3 million restoration aims to fix problems that have existed since the tower’s formal dedication in 1933, an event broadcast nationally on NBC Radio. Sitting atop Mount Greylock, nearly 3,500 feet above sea level, water has seeped into the tower’s walls, rapidly freezing and thawing. At times, two inches of ice have filled the tower’s chamber. With conditions worsening over the past five years, the state closed the tower in 2013. Carol Sanchez is the commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

“Under this project, DCR will undertake comprehensive exterior masonry repairs, apply a new two-part mortar sealant, install new ventilation and dehumidification systems, restore interior finishes that have been damaged by water and mold,” Sanchez explained. “The commonwealth will also improve the access so persons of all abilities will soon be able to visit the restored interior of the tower.”

DCR is also planning interpretative exhibits inside the tower’s chamber to honor the state’s veterans. Project managers also expect to install panels replicating the view from the top of the 93-foot tower for those unable to ascend it. A capsule containing bulbs that can be seen 70 miles away will once again shine bright, according to Massachusetts Veterans Services Secretary Francisco Urena.

“The restoration of the Greylock War Memorial Tower will bring back the character, restore elegance in the state’s war memorial and return it to the condition that better reflects the symbolism and conveys its significance,” Urena said. “At the end of this project, the Greylock War Memorial Tower will once again stand tall and proud shining the light of loyal service to the commonwealth’s sons and daughters forever in memory of those lost.”

Massachusetts is home to 365,000 veterans, according to Urena. Having spent eight years in the Marine Corps and deploying to Iraq, Urena says the monument also honors the men and women currently serving in the armed forces.

“The inscription which reads ‘Erected by Massachusetts’ grateful recognition of loyalty and sacrifice to her sons and daughters in war,’” Urena noted. “Today the commonwealth rededicates itself in our commitment to honoring the service of our sons and daughters who till today continue to defend this great nation on many battlefields. While our country is quote, unquote on peace time, we still have men and women protecting and defending in all parts of the world – this monument stands for their service as well.”

The federal government and the state are funding the project. Officials expect to reopen the tower in the spring of 2017. With Mount Greylock State Reservation touching six Berkshire communities, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright thanked the state for its continued investment in Massachusetts’ highest peak.

“Knowing that they not only, in this case with the mountain benefits and honors and veterans, it also is our playground,” Alcombright said. “It is an important economic, recreational and community asset that we have out here in western Massachusetts.”

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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