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Independence Hall Tower Tour

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Uploaded on Feb 22, 2011

This summer, NPS staff and contractors working at Independence National Historical Park enjoyed a glimpse of architectural history. In the process of removing the wood cladding from Independence Hall Tower, workers exposed the structural framing for the tower at the clock face level. Though the tower has seen some changes over time, such as the addition of 20th century structural framing and an enlarged 1876 clock face opening, this is the first time that anyone has seen the tower framing exposed in this manner since the wood portion of the tower was added in 1828.
Funded by $4.4 million in stimulus funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the rehabilitation project began last July and is expected to be completed in early 2012. In June 2011, contractors installed the new stainless steel spindle that supports the weather vane, ball, and crown in addition to the highest lightening rod aerial. A crane lifted the 30 foot long, 700 pound spindle approximately 240 feet into the air to center it for the drop in, working with only 5/8" clearance to navigate the spindle down through the spire framing and anchor it properly.
Work is progressing from the top down, and visitors will see the scaffolding come down in stages as portions of the project are completed. To date, the scaffolding has been lowered approximately 52 feet, revealing the restored spire and weathervane. In the upcoming months as the work progresses, the scaffolding will be removed exposing more and more of the restoration. Visitors can still see an image of the iconic tower throughout the project, however, thanks to the Friends of Independence, who donated a decorative scrim to cover the scaffolding
More Information On The Project

Visitors to Independence National Historical Park have a new way to appreciate Independence Hall Tower while it is scaffolded during a 14 month rehabilitation project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which started in July 2010. Thanks to the Friends of Independence, the scaffolding is covered by decorative scrims showing images of the iconic tower.

The Friends of Independence National Historical Park donated the funds for the decorative scrim to the park. The scrim displays architectural measured drawings of the tower, colored on the north and south sides so visitors may still experience the grandeur of the tower during the rehabilitation. Decorative scrims are growing in popularity, and this scrim has attracted public and media attention. The drawings are decorative and also create a "teaching moment": temporary waysides nearby offer information about the measured drawings on which the image is based.

The purpose of the important ARRA tower rehabilitation is to arrest and correct decay of the tower's exterior skin. This project includes repointing and replacing damaged brick masonry, installing or replacing wood shingle roofing and flashings, restoring and painting window sashes, frames and doors. Carpentry repairs include painting and caulking on all exposed wood decorative building elements over the full height of the tower. This project also requires reinforcing new clock faces and bracing at all building elevations, refurbishing historic copper urns, replacing the supporting weathervane structure, providing borate fungicide treatment of interior structural elements, and replacing the tower's outdated lightning protection system. The current tower dates to 1828 and was designed by architect William Strickland.

"This rehabilitation will help preserve Independence Hall for many more generations to come and will allow the National Park Service to improve visitor enjoyment for the millions of visitors to Independence National Historical Park each year. In addition to creating local jobs, this project is vital to support the tourism industry that is so important to the economic vitality of this Commonwealth and community," said Superintendent Cynthia MacLeod.

The National Park Service has awarded a $4,394,000 contract under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to Daniel J. Keating Company, a general contractor and construction management firm based in Narberth, PA.

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