The infamously tilted tower of Bucksport’s town-owned former seminary will soon be righted by emergency repairs.
The wooden support beams of the 178-year-old former seminary’s tower, a landmark visible from miles away, are rotting. They are a safety threat and need immediate replacement, town Code Enforcement Officer Jeffrey Hammond said.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places but left derelict for about 20 years, Wilson Hall came within a town councilor’s vote of being razed in 2014 before residents eager to save the structure raised $5,000 for partial repairs.
The repairs “will take the pressure off the remaining part of that tower. Those columns that are failing are putting pressure on one of the walls of the boxy part of the tower,” Hammond said Thursday. “If the wall goes, the whole thing could topple over.”
“One column is completely rotted away,” he added.
The town council agreed Aug. 9 to allocate about $4,400 to the repairs, Hammond said. They should straighten the tower, which has had at least a 5 degree tilt for many years.
DiCenzo Crane and Rigging Co. of Hermon received the contract and will start work in two weeks, Hammond said.
The tower might be saved, but the future of the building itself is questionable.
State Rep. Richard Campbell, an Orrington-based Republican and full-time contractor, has had eight months to plot the revitalization of the building, which is on Franklin Street. The town granted him the second of two three-month extensions July 12 to develop his plan — to turn the building into an elder care facility — and find investors.
Town Manager Susan Lessard has said that the council has been patient, but many people in town think the property could be put to better use than it has been.
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