Fort Hill Tower (Cochituate Standpipe)

Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts
The Fort Hill Tower, also known as the Cochituate Standpipe, in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts is a historic landmark.
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About This Location

The Fort Hill Tower, also known as the Cochituate Standpipe, commands attention from its perch atop historic Highland Park, overlooking the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. Initially conceived in 1869 by architect Nathaniel Bradlee as a water storage facility, this Gothic Revival masterpiece was designed to harness water from Lake Cochituate in Natick for local residents. Serving its purpose for a brief decade, it soon became obsolete when Roxbury was annexed by Boston, leading to neglect and disrepair.

However, between 1895 and 1916, the esteemed firm of Olmsted, Olmsted, and Eliot undertook significant enhancements, including the addition of an external viewing balcony and the restoration of the tower’s original quadrangular shape, reminiscent of its strategic fort origins during the American Revolution.

In 2013, the City of Boston launched an ambitious restoration project, spearheaded by Russo Barr Associates and Building Conservation Associates. Meticulously employing historically accurate methods and materials, the team meticulously removed layers of paint, restored period-appropriate mineral coatings, replaced window glazing, and meticulously repaired the cast iron staircase, metal roof, and arched wood windows.

This restoration effort not only revitalized a unique architectural gem but also preserved a cherished piece of Boston’s collective memory. As Greg Galer, Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, noted, the Fort Hill Tower stands as a testament to a bygone era when communities took pride in celebrating their infrastructure. The tower’s meticulous restoration serves as a source of pride and connection to the neighborhood’s rich past.

Originally named the Cochituate Standpipe, the tower’s ornate Gothic Revival design by Nathaniel Jeremiah Bradlee evokes a sense of grandeur and elegance. Though its tenure as a water tower was brief, lasting only ten years, its architectural significance endures. With its white brick façade, lancet windows, and striking green steeple, the tower exudes a timeless charm, reminiscent of Bavarian spires.

Today, the Fort Hill Tower serves as a symbol of resilience and renewal, a beacon atop Highland Park that invites residents and visitors alike to marvel at its beauty and storied history. Periodically opened for public tours, it offers a glimpse into Boston’s past while standing as a testament to the city’s commitment to preserving its architectural heritage.

Location

Address: Fort Avenue, Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts
Place GPS Coordinates: 42.325329, -71.094602
Parking GPS Coordinates: 42.325329, -71.094602
Parking Notes: Fortunately, street parking can be found all around the Highland Park and this makes visiting the Fort Hill Tower super easy. Parking is ample and free.

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