Yesterday I spent the day at the Dorchester Heights Monument in South Boston, with a team of interns in the Boston area. We were asked to work together to review a previous assessment document for renovations of the existing conditions of this historic monumental tower. Every building experiences changes and displacement of material. So it was our job to take a entire look of the exterior and interior to find any things we thought needed attention, some more urgent than others. This 115 foot tower was erected around 1902. Still standing today with the original exterior Georgian marble, overtime heat expansion and weathering has caused cracking of the marble and the mortar to loosen and crumble at some parts. It’s amazing to think how these massive blocks of marble actually expand responding to the heat and Sun exposure. We also noticed that each side of the tower receives different amounts of sunlight which also corresponds to the heat and moisture the marble receives either being too much moisture or too little and the same for heat amounts.
Moving to the interior of the tower, a huge black door stands about ten feet tall. Built after the War of 1812, I can imagine the monument designed for military use of emergency after colonial militia defended Dorchester Heights from British attack. The interior bricks have experienced the same loss of mortar strength and even replaced with very loose bricks in some parts. The tower has two levels for access to the balconies on each side. With moisture control being a huge factor inside, the stairs and several beams have rusted and need attention.
This was truly a great opportunity to preview the many changes a building undergo over time. I was glad to know I understood exactly why some of the materials did experience drastic changes. It was also great to learn how to properly investigate a building for future use in practicing architecture. Aside from the investigation, I received some great views while standing at the balcony level. The park itself was a great example of landscape architecture with open space for children to play or locals to walk there dog. I got a 360 view of the harbor and Boston’s amazing skyline north of the park. I enjoyed learning and experiencing the knowledge of Historic Architects of the park service for the day.