School group touring the Naval Academy, 2017.

Best of Maryland: Gatehouses of the US Naval Academy

05/10/2017
By Preservation Maryland

Working with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, a team from The Tower Company, along with Citadel DCA and Battle Creek Construction, restored the 19th century gatehouses of the Naval Academy in Annapolis. For their skillful work, this team will take home the Artisan Award at the Best of Maryland awards celebration.

Please join us in recognizing the work at the Naval Academy, and many other great preservation projects, at the Best of Maryland awardees at a preservation party Thursday, May 11, 2017 at the College Park Aviation Museum. Registration is open!

FROM THE NOMINATION

BRIEF HISTORY

Buildings 122 and 173, located at Gate III at the intersection of Maryland Avenue and Hanover Street, in Annapolis, Maryland are the U.S. Naval Academy’s only two surviving 19th Century structures. They were constructed three years apart in 1878 and 1881 respectively. Each has been added to sometime before 1934; Building 122 has a bathroom extension and Building 173, an electrical vault.

These one story buildings with low slopping standing seam copper roofs have varying degrees of brick detailing arch topped, two over two windows. Two elongated four over four windows with bracketed brick arch extrados highlight building 122. The walls terminate in corbeling which is crowned by a well-proportioned wood cornice featuring prominent modillions.

Although structurally sound, the fraternal twins’ facades had suffered from the application, then removal of a Portland cement render. The windows were in fair condition and the wood cornice at Building 173 suffered from a deteriorated box gutter. On Building 122 the box gutter had been abandoned in favor of a half round external gutter. The standing seam roofs were serviceable, however, Naval Facilities Engineering Command’s decision to restore and reconstruct the original box gutters prompted their replacement. In doing so, ventilation was introduced to the walls and roof assembly to combat rising damp.

THE ARTISANS

For almost a year, The Tower Company, under the direction of John Tower worked with architects Citadel DCA and general contractor, Battle Creek Construction, to fully rehabilitate the two structures. John’s attention to detail and his knowledge across all assemblies and materials was fundamental to the project’s success. To maintain the formidable wood cornice as intact as possible, John had his shop construct a custom steam box so that 10 foot sections of the cornice could be stripped intact. John was instrumental in helping to resolve the rising damp challenges by incorporating unobtrusive ventilation strategies that kept character defining features from undergoing adverse alterations.

John’s work and dedication in Annapolis has helped to preserve landmarks such as the Hammond-Harwood House, Paca House, Carroll House – where his firm has been providing preservation guidance for years – and Bordley-Randall House. In Washington, John has been a preferred preservation contractor for Blair House and The White House.

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Preservation Maryland is Maryland’s first and largest organization dedicated to preserving the state’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes, and archaeological sites.

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